Graduation season is in full swing. This season I’ve shared in graduations of family, friends and their children from pre-k, high school, college, graduate school and boot camp. I even celebrated my own reunion from college. This season of pride and accomplishment marked by graduation is a major milestone.
In the traditions of my alma mater Spelman College, there is one that I feel so poignantly captures the common thread of graduation: the support of others that help each of us get to this point of achievement and celebration. At our reunion, it is a tradition for alumnae to lead the current year's graduates through the Alumnae Arch. As the Class of 2012 walked through the arch and hundreds of alumnae, family and friends cheered them on and greeted them with tears and hugs, I was reminded of the seed that was planted in me so long ago and of those who nurtured my aspirations.
Not one of us achieves this milestone alone. Someone nurtured, supported, nagged us along the way to push us forward to this accomplishment. My mother was my role model and set high expectations; my grandparents cheered me on and made me believe that I could be anything I wanted to be; my family and friends always welcomed me home with open arms and sent me back to school reenergized; and my fifth grade teacher motivated me and continued to offer her support long after I left her class.
My realization was that the same is true for my own children, but it is also true for the children in our lives. I began planting the seed in my children early with their own college t-shirts, pennants for their rooms and taking them on college campuses. The Club environment is ripe for being a safe haven for children to dream big and prepare for their future.
Erica S. Stevens is BGCA's senior director of Education and the Arts.
If we want Club youth to graduate from high school -- or any level for that matter -- we must pay attention to and value each child's interests and believe in their potential. We must set high expectations and provide opportunities that help them learn more about their interests and expose them to others who can also support those interests. This is confirmed by the 2007 Harris Survey in which 62% of Club alumni said “the Club helped them become committed to their education” and 64% said “the Club had a positive effect on their goals and aspirations.”
So as we participate in graduation ceremonies and celebrations, I hope that we are all reminded that it is with the support of those we know and, often times, those we don't, that help us get to the celebration that the graduation season brings. We all can play a powerful role in preparing youth for a great future.