We are immensely proud to announce that 138 First Place for Youth young people overcame unprecedented challenges, including school closures and COVID-related shutdowns and isolation, to achieve an educational milestone! This graduation season, we honor their hard work and determination at completion ceremonies for high school, apprenticeships, vocational programs, associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees! To commemorate these extraordinary individuals and their accomplishments, our Independent Living Skills Programs in Solano and San Francisco held celebration events for 36 graduates whose talents, experiences, and gifts will shape our collective futures.
At the Solano event, we celebrated 14 young people achieving their educational milestones. Five graduates received Transition Support Grants to help secure stable housing as they prepare to step into this next chapter of their lives. There was no shortage of good music thanks to Solano County Peer Educator, Elijah Miller, who DJ’d the event with his own beats!
At the San Francisco event, SF ILSP Education Advocate, Kristina Abella, and SF ILSP Bilingual Specialist, Jocelyn Arevalo, led the presentation of graduates to congratulate 22 young people on finishing high school, community college, and an EMT training academy. San Francisco Independent Living Skills Program Salutatorian, Marta Rivas Crespin, spoke about the challenges of spending most of high school online and reminisced on her senior year friendships with fellow program participants. As she concluded her speech, Marta reminded her peers to have faith in themselves when times get rough,
“Every young person our age has a dream, whether to be a firefighter, an architect, a policeman, or a lawyer, but sometimes students forget to have faith. When one has faith and is sure of themselves, you can achieve a lot with that effort—especially more when you know you have struggled but made it through,” she said.
In the face of a global pandemic and other challenges, all of these graduates adapted to unforeseen changes and showed their resilience to cross the finish line. Marta noted,
“The rough moments from these past few years will be replaced with better years ahead of us. We will continue to meet good and positive people in our lives who will help us in our journey ahead. We will continue to make friends and create memories we will have for the rest of our life. School will be difficult, but if you have faith in yourself and remind yourself that you will achieve, we will see that we will keep advancing in life.”
Thank you to all the fantastic staff members who have guided these young people and provided each graduate with unwavering support. Congratulations to the Class of 2022! The future is yours!