A graduation ceremony on June 19 not only celebrated the futures of nine hopeful students, but recognized the obstacles overcome to accept their diploma.
Combining graduates from both Notre Dame House, an emergency shelter and multi-agency resource centre for homeless and street-involved youth, and Regina’s Place, a school for young mothers and their children, an overall sense of pride and accomplishment was felt amongst graduates, staff, family and friends.
Recognizing the valued partnership between the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board and Notre Dame House and Regina’s Place, Director of Education David Hansen took a moment to thank staff who truly embody the mission of Catholic education and play a vital role in each student’s success.
Also bringing warm words of congratulations on behalf of Senior Administration, he invited students to think back to some 15 or so years ago when their educational journey began.
“You’ve led a different pathway, but here you are receiving your diploma or receiving your Certificate of Accomplishment. There’s a great quote from Mark Twain, and he says, ‘the two most important days in your life are the day you’re born, and the day you find out why.’”
“I would argue that today you’re contributing and finding out part of the why of your life.”
In her Valedictory Address, Regina’s Place graduate Amy Fowlds admitted to struggling to adhere to any sense of structure in her life, leading to poor choices.
At 17, she decided to make changes that would have a positive impact on her life. One of which, was going back to school.
“It is hard for us, as young mothers,” she said. “We’re often put down, ridiculed, told that we won’t succeed in life, or judged for maybe needing more help. But no matter how many moments we go through of these, it is in our control how we react and respond,” adding that her choice to attend Regina’s Place has put her life back on track.
Leaving students with a lasting thought, Brother Justin Howson encouraged students to build new goals for their future.
“This is the first day of the beginning of the rest of your lives, so I’d encourage you to keep on challenging yourselves,” he said.
“Don’t be afraid of education, don’t be afraid of challenge. Education opens the door to opportunities and possibilities.”