Goosebumps appeared and tears were flowing during a celebration of the 64 graduating EMERGE seniors held at Carnegie Vanguard High School on Tuesday evening, April 22. More than 500 students, parents and special guests gathered for a celebration that included statements from graduating seniors and special speakers.
“Through EMERGE, I had opportunities I never thought possible, including traveling to the Northeast on an exciting college tour last summer,” said Furr High School senior and EMERGE scholar Karen Banda. “This fall, I’ll be headed back to Massachusetts to study economics at Smith College on a full scholarship as a Gates Millennium Scholar.”
HISD Superintendent Terry Grier congratulated the graduating seniors and gave them a challenge to return to Houston after they graduate from college to lead the community in which they grew up. Grier also encouraged the EMERGE underclassmen to look up to the successes of the 2014 seniors and to study hard to be able to achieve the same successes as their classmates.
The second part of the ceremony allowed parents and students to address the crowd and talk about their experiences during high school and as part of the EMERGE program. Several parents participated and thanked the EMERGE staff, the HISD Board of Education and the superintendent for their ongoing support of the program.
Keynote speaker Laura Arnold, co-chair of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, spoke about her experience adjusting to an Ivy League school after graduating from a public school. “Wherever you are, you can make it your own, just as long as you work hard and persevere,” she said. She also encouraged students to return to Houston and to give back to the community that helped them reach their goals.
EMERGE program managers awarded a medal to each graduating senior and later were praised by Susana Rosas, EMERGE Fellowship executive director. She thanked them for their daily work as they mentor and guide students toward college readiness. “It is my honor to represent such a great organization,” she said.
The EMERGE Fellowship is a Houston-based nonprofit organization that partners with school districts such as HISD to prepare bright, motivated, underserved students to successfully attend and graduate from top-tier colleges. In this past year, EMERGE has worked with more than 350 students across 25 HISD high schools, changing life trajectories for both students and their families.
To learn more about EMERGE, visit www.houstonisd.org/emerge.
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