Graduation Celebration at Marillac

In early June, Marillac celebrated the 2013 graduates from 8th grade, high school, and college. The evening was very special to staff, the graduates and their families. We had over 200 people attend the event. The celebration began with some special words from Marillac St. Vincent Family Services Board Member Ira Bey. Ira attended Marillac as a child and was able to talk about his personal story and give advice to our upcoming leaders as we celebrated their accomplishments.

The celebration then transitioned into the traditional candle-lighting ceremony, which Michelle Howell presided over. 13 of our young people graduated from 8th grade. As they stood around the candles a family member lit their candle demonstrating that they will be there to support their child as they move on to high school. This was very special because their parents were so proud of their children. Next came 23 high school graduates. Their families stood behind them as they lit their own candle showing that they are ready to move on in their lives. The breakdown of the accomplishments of the group was impressive. 8 of the 24 were young men, with 4 participating in Doug Hewitt’s Mentor Program. 1 young woman received her GED. 7 of the young women were teen mothers from Project Hope, graduating on time even as they dealt with pregnancies and raising a child. 1 young woman received a basketball and academic scholarship, and 17 of the 24 are planning on attending college in the fall. Many of the high school graduates finished school with high grade point averages and accomplishments in sports and other extracurricular activities along with participating in Marillac programs.

Jackie Hoffman and Laura Triplett graduated from college. Both attended Marillac since they were young children. Jackie received a degree in Criminal Justice from Bethune-Cookman University and Laura received a Bachelor’s in General Studies from Kentucky State University. We also celebrated Latasha Gamble, a former Hope Junior and Project Hope participant, who received her Bachelors in nursing as her oldest daughter Tatoiniya is graduating from 8th grade and her youngest is moving onto 1st grade.

Two of our very own staff Othina and Albert both received Bachelors degrees from Northeastern Illinois University. They were able to share their thoughts to the group. Both of them are wonderful role models of what one can accomplish. Another very special part of the evening was Cherise Conley presenting a scholarship to Deon Taylor. Cherise grew up in Hope Junior. She received her Masters last year in finance. She works at ComEd. As part of her desire to give back, she mentors in a program through Exelon. Cherise encouraged Deanna to have several of our teens apply for a $1,000 scholarship. She came to the celebration to present the award, share her own story, and show how important motivation and support are to succeed. Deon works as a youth Counselor in Hope Junior and is a Mentee in Dough Hewitt’s Program. He is going to attend Southern Illinois University in the fall.

Everyone enjoyed sharing a special dinner to celebrate all of these positive milestones in our children, teens and families lives. The evening ended with Genise Granberry, former Marillac participant, singing an inspiring rendition of “I Believe I Can Fly.” Thanks to all the staff who made this evening possible and especially to Deanna and Mrs. Grant who organized the event.


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