Hartford Center for Adult Education graduates have unique paths to graduation – Hartford Courant

Hartford — Jennifer Sanchez attended two high school commencement ceremonies on Thursday.

First, she watched her daughter Jitzy Alica graduate from Weaver High School in the morning. Then she received her GED in the evening from the Hartford Adult Education Center in the evening.

Sanchez, 37, was one of 35 adults between the ages of 20 and 66 who successfully graduated from high school and received diplomas from the Adult Education Center this year.

Sanchez, a pharmacy technician who also works in the emergency room at Hartford Hospital, said she graduated from high school in Puerto Rico years ago, but the documentation was lost. She decided to go back to school to set an example for Alica.

“I went back to school, just to teach him that it’s never too late to go back and educate himself,” she said.

Sanchez was also motivated to receive a degree because potential employers were asking her for a physical degree.

Alica, still in her green Weaver dress and mortar board when she started adult education, said she was proud of her mother and excited to share the day with her.

“She raised me on her own,” Alica said. “I’m thrilled that I was able to have this opportunity to do it with her on the same day and to have her support. A lot of kids don’t have that support. I had my mother’s support.

As several speakers pointed out, each graduate had a unique story as to why they chose an alternative path to graduate, but they were all united by the common bond that it’s never too late. to go back to school. And it’s never too late to improve.

Reverend Dr Albert Bailey, the keynote speaker, said it took nine different schools to get from kindergarten to grade 12 and there was no shortage of scrapes with the law before he finally graduated.

“No one could steal a car like me,” he said. “I had to come to the conclusion that life is not a game, but life is a journey.”

Drawing inspiration from the poem “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost, Bailey underlined the stanza, “The woods are beautiful, dark and deep / But I have promises to keep / And miles to go before I sleep / And miles to go before I sleep.

“[The traveler] could have stopped there,” Bailey said. “He could have called it a night. … He could have said, ‘From now on, I will live in this state.’ … It was good for me to stay in this moment.

But Bailey said while the moment was beautiful and the traveler could pause and reflect on it, there was still a long way to go and commitments to fulfill.

“To get here you had to travel some roads,” Bailey said. “You’ve come a long way in a short time and know that tonight in these beautiful woods, on this snowy evening, I want you to promise yourself that you have promises to keep, and you have a few miles to go before of sleeping.

Bailey informed the graduates that along their journey, they would have to let go of certain people and things.

“When you leave your snowy evening, you have to leave them in the woods,” he said. “The people, the places, the things that will keep you in the woods. … You have to let some people do your journey.

He also challenged them to strive for their best.

“The world doesn’t need more good people,” he said. “Everyone in this room graduating tonight, I command you right now to be great. We have enough good people in the world. But the challenges of our society, the challenges of our community, the challenges days to come, we need people who want to be great….I feel there’s greatness in this room.

The Reverend AJ Johnson, vice president of the Hartford Board of Education, said there are 86,400 seconds a day. Johnson told graduates to spend those seconds wisely.

AEC Deputy Principal Jacqueline Mann noted the challenges graduates often faced while completing their course requirements.

“These are people who worked full time, raised families, but still found time to study, finish homework and come to class,” Mann said, adding that they had a bright future ahead of them. “You have so much to offer your family, your friends, your community. Be bold as you go. Be the best you can be.

In her comments, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez called the 35 graduates “impressive,” noting that many of them started at the AEC during the pandemic.

“When I look back on the last 27 months, and you’ve heard them tonight, a lot of them started when we closed schools and when everything closed and they’re still here and they kept going. present,” she said. “It gives us all hope for what’s to come.”

Class of 2022 speaker Giani Joseph said she only intended to visit the United States from the Caribbean for a short time in 2020. Then the pandemic hit and she couldn’t return to her home country, so she decided to, as she put it, make “lemonade with lemons” and go to school at the adult education center.

Her journey eventually led her to be accepted to Tuskegee University in Alabama.

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Graduate Camay Paternostro, the eldest of 15 children in her family, dropped out of school in grade 10. At 23, with two young children of her own, she enrolled in the AEC at the start of the school year, only for her children to catch COVID, which turned into pneumonia.

This led Paternostro to drop out of school again, only to re-enroll after getting a job as a dental assistant.

“I’m just glad I got to do it,” she said. “I’m setting a pattern for my kids, and not just my kids, but my siblings as well. I’m still a bit in shock that I graduated and did it at my age. I am happy. I am very happy.”

For Sanchez and Alica, the evening gave them a moment to share and celebrate their inexorable bond, which was reflected on their mortar boards.

“All thanks to you,” Alica wrote, with photos of Sanchez attached.

“I wanted to give up but remembered who was watching,” Sanchez said, with a photo of her two daughters attached.

Ted Glanzer can be reached at [email protected]

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