An Intimate Graduation Ceremony with College Access Participants

by Stephanie Kalele, Donor Relations Manager

The COVID-19 pandemic forced Urban Upbound to move most of our social services online — which made it an unusual year for our College Access participants. Even though the participants were able to finish the SAT preparation course at the end of 2019 still sitting across from their peers, they unfortunately could not do any in-person college tours or visit any in-person college fairs during 2020. And while their college preparation experience was a digital-only one, last week they were able to celebrate their success together and in person!

Kicking off the summer and following the lifting of most COVID-19 regulations in NYC, the Urban Upbound College Access program was able to put together an intimate graduation ceremony last Friday, June 25, where our graduates enjoyed each other’s company for the first time since the pandemic started. “The event was extremely meaningful to me as it was like our own little graduation ceremony. Everyone had a moment to be appreciated and appreciate others. It was a wonderful way to bring everyone together,” said Alisha who will continue her education journey at NYU this Spring.

Our College Access participants came to the event and celebrated their accomplishments with pizza and cake. They were excited to move on to the next chapter of their lives, with many staying in New York, to attend schools like Baruch College and Stony Brook University, while others will be going away to study at Penn State and American University. All of them were accepted into the top universities on their list. Celebrating a 100% college acceptance rate, College Access graduates received a certificate of completion, heartwarming congratulation cards, and a brand new laptop at the ceremony!

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A collection of stories around NYC’s public housing communities curated by Urban Upbound, a non-profit organization with a mission to break cycles of poverty.