On Thursday, June 26, 2014, the LYFE Program hosted its second annual “Let LYFE Inspire You” Student Parent Graduate Recognition Ceremony. Across LYFE’s 36 sites, over 200 LYFE student parents graduated from New York City Department of Education high schools and programs in the 2013-2014 school year. The ceremony was a great success with approximately 190 guests including student parent graduates, their children, LYFE staff, and external partners in attendance to celebrate and recognize our student parents and their amazing triumphs.
Distinguished guests included, District 79 Superintendent, Tim Lisante and District 79 Deputy Superintendent, Robert Zweig. In addition, LYFE student parents and families received a keynote address from Fashion Model, Devyn Abdullah, who became a mother while still in high school before becoming the first official winner of “THE FACE”, Naomi Campbell’s reality TV modeling competition. Her story of determination was surely an inspiration to LYFE student parents who are moving forward to pursuing their own career dreams and goals while also being great parents.
Here are a few highlights from our spectacular and inspiring evening…
- LYFE student parent, Rhonneil Cooper was awarded the LYFE Academic Achievement Award for her excellence in completing her high school education. Rhonneil graduated valedictorian of her graduating class at Bedford Stuyvesant Preparatory High School with a Regents Diploma in December 2013. She is currently studying nursing at New York City College of Technology.
- Gabriela Ramirez, a student parent from Brooklyn Lab High School was the recipient of the LYFE Inspiration Award which recognized her resilience toward academic achievement. Despite being displaced from her home, she continued attending classes and preparing for her Regents while bringing her daughter to LYFE. Gabriela will study cosmetology at Co-Op Tech in September 2014.
- Mynor Escobar & Jessica Ponce were the recipients of the LYFE Legacy Award which celebrates the family’s engagement and success as a family in LYFE. When LYFE student father Mynor Escobar and LYFE student mother, Jessica Ponce first enrolled in LYFE they were at risk of not completing high school and they both had many responsibilities as young adults and parents of two boys. Through their relentlessness and support to one another, Mynor is now a high school graduate, employed as a chef and is currently attending Touro College. He was also honored with the 2014 NYC Dads Matter Award by Mayor de Blasio for his dedication as a father. Jessica is on track to graduate next school year. Her attendance improved dramatically this school year and she is succeeding academically, while improving her proficiency in English.
- The LYFE Team at Beach Channel High School was awarded the LYFE Staff Support Award which recognizes their diligence and commitment to LYFE families. This team’s experience working for LYFE spans from 13 to 24 years. They were recognized for their ability to foster a positive school culture and for going above and beyond to make sure student parents and their children are supported.
- Deirdre Arthur, Educational Paraprofessional from LYFE at Jane Addams High School also received the LYFE Staff Support Award demonstrating the profound impact an individual can have on families and the program as a whole. Deirdre has worked for the LYFE Program for 27 years and has always demonstrated a strong commitment to student parents and their children.
Congratulations to the LYFE student parent graduates, to the LYFE award winners 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, Randy Quarshie and Lucille Bass
On Thursday, June 12, 2014, LYFE student parent, Mynor Escobar, was honored as a recipient of the 2014 NYC Dads Matter Award sponsored by The Mayor’s Fatherhood Initiative. The annual award ceremony recognizes ten New York City fathers who exemplify bravery, courage, and triumph in their lives while being extraordinary role models to their children and community. At the ceremony, Mynor was presented with the award by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who also shared an account of Mynor’s victorious story as a young man, son, father, and student.
Mynor was nominated for the award by LYFE teacher, Vivan Fleishaker who provided an inspiring account of his journey from being a 16- year- old new father and high-school junior determined to achieve success for his family. Despite various obstacles he faced over the past 3 years since enrolling in LYFE, Mynor remained a committed father and advocate for his sons, making sure they received necessary health service to improve their growth and development while also focusing on his education and maintaining gainful employment.
Given his determination and drive, Mynor worked his way up from a position as a dishwasher to a chef at a respectable restaurant. Mynor also obtained a CPR certification allowing him to contribute greatly to his community. Today Mynor is a high school graduate with two healthy sons and he is continuing his education at Touro College.
Receiving the 2014 NYC Dads Matter Award was truly well-deserved and well-earned recognition for Mynor. LYFE congratulates Mynor Escobar for his outstanding achievements and for being an inspiration for other young fathers.