On Friday, June 21, 2013 the LYFE Program hosted its first Student Parent Graduate Recognition Ceremony, aptly themed “Let LYFE Inspire You”, to celebrate over 200 student parents who graduated from New York City Department of Education high schools and GED programs. The event was a huge accomplishment and joyous occasion for our mission as a program. The event was a great success not only because we were able to celebrate the accomplishments of our student parents, but our guiding principles – our mission, vision, and core values were actualized and shared on a large scale and inspired all who were in attendance. On this night over 265 guests including student parents, their children, LYFE staff, and external partners gathered to celebrate and recognize our student parents and their amazing triumphs to transition into parenthood and graduate prepared to pursue college and career.
Our student parents and families had a chance to meet, interact, and take photos with our esteemed guests — District 79 Superintendent, Dr. Tim Lisante, LYFE Alumnus, Grace Padilla, and NYC Schools Chancellor, Dennis Walcott — sharing their personal accounts of how LYFE has impacted their child’s development, their academic progress, and their growth as parents. Staff had an opportunity to interact and engage with the student parents throughout our entire program making the evening that much more inspiring, exemplifying the profound impact we have made in the lives of nearly 900 young families in the New York City Department of Education this school year alone.
Here are a few highlights from our amazing and inspiring evening…
Anita Mohammed, LYFE teacher, presented Johanna Tamayo with the LYFE Academic Achievement Award. Displaced during Hurricane Sandy, Johanna endured the monumental task of commuting for up to three hours using the ferry and the train until she made it to school. In addition to parenting and attending school, Johanna also found time to intern with the Child Center of New York, a community based organization for youth. Johanna graduated early in March 2013 and she is also the recipient of the Chancellor’s Remarkable Achievement Award. She will be attending York College in the Fall of 2013, studying to become a Physician’s Assistant. Her dream is to become a Doctor. Johanna’s success has been highlighted on the DOE website. Read about Johanna’s success here: http://schools.nyc.gov/Offices/mediarelations/NewsandSpeeches/2012-2013/062413_celebrateremarkable.htm
Diane Whitaker, LYFE Social Worker, presented Joseph Chango with the LYFE Inspiration Award. At the time of Joseph Chango child’s enrollment, Joseph had been out of school for a year to work to take care of his young family. Joseph enrolled in CUNY Fatherhood Academy which is a GED program for young fathers. Joseph thrived in this program and successfully passed his GED on the first try in February 2013. Joseph is enrolled in District 79 COOP Tech and he will be attending the building maintenance program in Fall 2013. Joseph is also interested in helping and inspiring other young men to reach their goals and plans to study Social Work in 2014.
Deidra Johnson, LYFE Teacher presented Felecia Edwards with the LYFE Inspiration Award. At a young age Felecia lost her greatest support system – her parents. She also experienced the loss of her grandmother, her sole supporter, a few years ago. With such limited support from family, Felecia has had to make extremely difficult decisions to survive and become the young woman and mother that she is today. Over the course of her young adult life, various circumstances led Felecia into unstable environments, where she was at times without a stable home and unsure of how she would raise her daughter. Through her hard work, Felecia is now a graduate and she is in the process of securing permanent housing for her and her daughter. Currently, she is considering two job offers that have been presented to her and she is planning to attend Kingsborough Community College in the Fall of 2013 to study Liberal Arts.
Jonathan Lulov, LYFE Social Worker presented the Farland family with the LYFE Legacy Award. The LYFE Legacy award acknowledged a resilient grandmother, who advocated for her daughter within a large education system, and teamed up with LYFE, to ensure that her daughter and grandchild would receive a quality education and a clear career path. LYFE celebrated Shirley Farland, LYFE student parent Mikhaela Farland (future entrepreneur), and LYFE student, Gabriel Farland, for their incredible involvement, ongoing communication, and relentlessness.
Maria Ramos, LYFE student parent graduate, presented the LYFE Staff Support Award to LYFE Team at Long Island City High School. Maria expressed how happy she was about the care her daughter received at LYFE. She stated, “I know that she [ her daughter] learned and developed not only socially but emotionally. “ She also shared how the LYFE staff at Long Island City High school encouraged her to come to school daily and be on time. She expressed appreciation that her child’s fathers was included and supported by LYFE. In her words, “Just like moms, LYFE dads are invited to participate in LYFE events and to participate in the education of their children. They give every mom and dad great support.”
Congratulations to the LYFE student parent graduates, to the LYFE Team from Long Island City High School, and to all the LYFE staff members who helped these students reach their goals and realize their potential, academically and socially.
Photo Credits: Max Stephenson, Mimi Woods and Lucille Bass