On June 15, The Children's Aid Society community gathered in the Con Ed auditorium to congratulate the graduates of the Educational eXcellence Creating Empowered Leaders (E.X.C.E.L.) college preparatory program. Honoring more than 60 high school students and 25 college graduates, the ceremony featured speeches by former New York City Mayor David Dinkins and City Councilman Robert Jackson, both of whom emphasized the power of higher education to lift children out of poverty. "Don't let yourself be distracted by all the challenges and temptations in life," said Councilman Jackson. "Stay the course."
Florence Wen echoed this sentiment during her acceptance of The William H. Dinkins, Jr. Scholarship. She recently graduated from Syracuse University with a dual major in Biology and Public Relations, but admitted to her fellow graduates that it wasn't always easy stay on track. "You have to stay focused," advised Wen, who is going on to pursue her Ph.D. Conservation Biology.
Two of the evening’s graduates, Dominique Giordano and Corey Scott, served as spirited co-hosts, introducing special guests one by one as nearly a dozen scholarships were awarded. One such award, The Audrey Miller Poritzky Scholarship, is given each year to select students who display attributes of leadership, community service and excellence in education. David Poritzky spoke candidly about his wife's belief in the importance of education, and with his daughter Sophie beside him on stage, praised this year's recipients for honoring Audrey's memory with their commitment to success.
Children's Aid President and CEO Richard R. Buery also offered his congratulations and praise--not just to the students, but also to their parents and caregivers. "Being a parent is the hardest job of all. That these young people are standing here tonight is a testament to all of your hard work. Your support has made the difference."
The ceremony concluded with the traditional roll call of graduates, giving each student a long-awaited moment of recognition and each family a moment of pride. The Children's Aid Society's E.X.C.E.L. program is a comprehensive educational and life skills program designed to engage students, ages 14-21, in a breadth of services geared toward preparing them for college and promoting their future success. We wish all of this year's graduates the best of luck in their future endeavors!
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