On June 8, 2015, ICD held its graduation ceremony for this year’s students who completed the Building Maintenance, Human Services Assistant, Early Child Care Worker, and Office Technologies training programs. Family, friends, and ICD staff gathered to celebrate the graduates’ success in their programs and their transition to employment.
As a new employee at ICD, it was my first time attending the graduation ceremony. I was taken with emotion as I watched students line up to process into the hall. I remembered my own graduation and smiled in recognition as the students nervously adjusted their caps and tugged at their robes. I saw familiar emotions registered on their faces: pride that they had succeeded in their programs; joy that their loved ones were present to celebrate their accomplishments; and a pinch of anxiety as they stepped into the unknown. Thankfully, at ICD, students don’t take this step alone. Standing alongside of the graduates was ICD’s dedicated team of training instructors, vocational counselors, and employment specialists, all of whom worked diligently over the past year to prepare graduates for the next stages of their lives.
As the processional music began, my eyes fixed on a woman in the crowd, smiling jubilantly as her graduate walked by. I was reminded that the ceremony was not just a celebration for the students, but also for their families. Parents, spouses, children - those who have offered endless support and love to the graduates throughout their lives – basked in the payoff of their efforts. Their smiles were an acknowledgment that their loved ones will have better lives as a result of their diligence and commitment in completing their programs.
Jessica Lopez and Kevin Kim, this year’s recipients of the David L. Mitchell Award presented to students who demonstrate exceptional achievement in their vocational pursuits, spoke at the ceremony. Jessica, a graduate of the Human Services Assistant program, is now happily employed at the New York Peace Institute, where she completed an internship as part of her program. Kevin, who completed his training in ICD’s Office Technologies program, is similarly thrilled to be working at the NYC Department of Buildings, as a result of his time at ICD. Met with resounding applause, their speeches, which described the utter joy of finding employment and building a new life for themselves, invoked sentiments shared among all the graduates, those of personal struggle but also triumph. Resonant throughout the ceremony, was the graduates’ appreciation for ICD and its staff. In describing her experience Jessica said, “Being at ICD helped me grow as an individual. The staff is dedicated to helping us achieve our goals and most importantly believe in our abilities and go after what we want.”
Having graduated some time ago myself, I was thankful to be able to relive the excitement and joy of such an occasion at ICD. It was a beautiful event that demonstrated that with hard work everyone is capable of success at any stage of life!
Jillian Laux is a Development Associate at ICD.