“If you ever think to yourself that you can’t do it, remember that you can, because you have,” encouraged Katie Mobley, Executive Director of the Winooski, St. Albans and Middlebury Academic Centers of the Community College of Vermont to the students being honored at the 2016 New Horizons Education Program Honoring Ceremony.
Katie was the keynote speaker at the event which celebrated the achievements of the students over the 2015/2016 school year. Other speakers included: Lund’s Executive Director Barbara Rachelson, Kimberly-Ann Coe, Director of Residential and Community Treatment Services at Lund, State Treasurer Beth Pearce and representatives from the offices of Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressman Peter Welch. Five students graduated from New Horizons and received their high school diplomas and were celebrated for this important milestone. While this may seem like a small number for a graduating class, when you consider that 30 students attended school this year, it makes more sense. It is also important to note that all of the students who were eligible for graduation at this time, did complete the work they needed to do and graduated as they had planned some months ago. Additionally, students were honored and recognized for their academic progress made in Lund’s New Horizons Educational program , their participation in Lund’s Workforce Development programming and in the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach program. Students were also recognized for participating in the Community College of Vermont’s Introduction to College Studies class held at Lund, as part of a collaborative effort to promote post-secondary education and training .
The highlight of the event was when the students shared their experiences. Some did this themselves and some asked their teachers to read for them. Graduate Grace White came to the podium, proud in her purple cap and gown and shared a heartfelt tribute to her classmates and teachers. “I was blown away by how strong every single one of these women are. I couldn’t believe that many of these women were sitting in school with their newborn babies and trying to focus on their work. You see how much they have struggled, yet they are sitting in front of you smiling and holding on to every inch of hope that they could possibly grasp. And the teachers, well, Mary, Kathy, Anne, and Kelsey are probably the best teachers you could ask for. Life changing to have them as teachers, honestly. They challenged, inspired, motivated, and supported us in a perfect balance.”
The Kit Stone Humanitarian Award was awarded to two women. This award is given in honor of former Board Member, Kit Stone annually to a student who has taken the opportunities presented to her and made them work for herself, her family, her peers and her community, demonstrated a commitment to her education and exemplifies compassion, kindness and goodwill for others. The winners were Grace White and Skyler Browder, both young women who are thriving, progressing down their chosen educational and professional paths and making wonderful lives for their children.
The chair of Lund’s Board of Trustees, Paulette Thabault, gave the closing remarks and encouraged each student to find their passion. “Find your passion and opportunities will come from that. Passion keeps you moving forward, strengthens you as a person and that will strengthen your family.”
Congratulations to all the students honored this year. And as Kim Coe said, “We stand with you in love, in hope and in excitement for what’s to come.”