This week, 49 graduates and their families are celebrating the completion of their diploma studies at E3 Power Center City–but the June 28th graduation ceremony is just the beginning for these young Philadelphians.

“I’m not done furthering my education,” said Vaishaun Covington. “I’m going on to the College Success Program, and I want to become a real estate agent.”

“I’m so happy. When they called my name, I almost cried,” said Keara Tucker. “I’m going to go to CCP [Community College of Philadelphia] for two years, then transfer. I’d like to become a nurse.”

Vaishaun and Keara’s dreams aren’t exceptions. They’re the rule for the graduates of E3 (operated by JEVS Human Services)–young adults who were formerly out of school, but found their way back for a chance at a diploma and a better future. Along the way, they impressed their families, their friends, their teachers…and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.

“We all have a story, and no one is perfect,” said the Mayor, who delivered the ceremony’s keynote remarks. “You didn’t give up, and I am so proud to be here with all of you.” See his graduation tweet.

It was a sentiment that extended to parents, as well.

“I’m so happy that (Brandon) finished,” said his mother Ivelisse Calo. “You need that diploma to get so many jobs–and now he’s the fourth of my four to complete school, so it’s just a better day going forward for him.”

Others were impressed by the tenacity displayed by the students.

“My daughter (Diamond) was lost a bit in the public school system,” said Johnny Perez. “There were so many distractions, but once she got here–it’s been a different Diamond. She’s never been so focused!”

Diamond agreed. “I wanted to do this for me, my daughter, and my Dad. I’m excited for the future.”

Graduation Day’s events also featured an Inspiration Award, given to John Hashim. As a 14-year-old in the Congo, Hashim lost his entire family to tribal wars, eventually settling in Philadelphia as a refugee. Now 18, Hashim worked five nights a week while attending E3, graduating in mere months, and hopes to learn coding and web development, or to one day become a doctor.

We wish the E3 Class of 2017 all the success in the world. You can view photos of the graduation here!

KYW1060 joined our graduates for this big day. Read about the celebration here.

Why don’t you paint me
Like I am?

Paint me young, black, beautiful,
happy and proud
Paint me with that graduation
cap and gown on.

Paint me with my big forehead,
my dark brown eyes,
And my chubby tummy
Paint me, come on, you see me, right?
Paint me with all the skills you have
Paint me somewhere happy
with my diploma
Somewhere, where I can be ME!
With a big smile on my face
Because I made it.

Paint me without all the chaos in my life
Paint me without my judgments
Paint me without my flaws and problems
Paint me so my downfalls won’t show

Can you see the face
telling you to paint me
with happiness?

Paint me with all the good things
but most of all
Paint me as a graduate!

– Jermiera Finney, E3 Class of 2017

Posted in Blog Client Spotlight JEVS In The News JEVS Program: E3 JEVS Service: Youth & Young Adult