Next week, we will celebrate the graduates of our Career Design School as they walk across the stage at the John Jay College auditorium in Manhattan. This event is among my favorite days of the year. It is a shiny culmination of the work we exist to do. Many of our graduates have had to overcome life-threatening odds to walk across that stage. They are an example of what relevant, sustainable impact looks like.
Our graduates come from all walks of life. They represent a full roster of the people we exist to serve—those with barriers to employment—individuals with physical or mental disabilities, youth aging out of foster care, veterans, the previously incarcerated, recovering addicts, and older workers who have been nudged out of the workplace. Each graduate harbors a story of triumph in personal courage and determination. Each story is an example of resilience and hardiness and strength. And each moment among cheering parents, relatives, children, grandchildren, and friends inspires me, our staff, and our board of directors to keep on doing the work we are doing to make possible what was, for many, once inconceivable.
Graduation opens the door to job placement, some in our own businesses, but the majority with our over 6500 business partners throughout New York City and New Jersey. Jobs in high growth sectors with significant opportunity for career advancement.
Graduation day reminds me of the power of one person to make a difference. One graduate, through perseverance, gumption, will, and passion can alter the course of her or his family history. Where there may have been hopelessness about a bright future, there is now resolve. Where some focused only on the outcome, they now understand the journey is where the action is. These are lessons learned only through taking a goal one day at a time, one step at a time, showing up day after day until this day—graduation day is upon us. And now, commencement begins—commencement to the next step, the next journey—it is thrilling to imagine what that could and will be.
I am inspired by the success and the will of our graduates. Congratulations to our graduates—and to graduates everywhere whose past, present, and future point to new beginnings and to the power of possible.