At the end of year Travel Program Celebration at Hostos Community College on June 18, the 2011 South Bronx United graduates were honored before heading off to college next year. The graduates included: Hector Aguilar (Lehman College), Ahmed Bagigah (Alfred State), Carmel Addae (SUNY-Morrisville), Sheick Wattara (SUNY-Maritime), Kimani Hines (Mercy College), Daniel Vergara (NYC College of Technology), Francisco Mendoza (undecided), Erick Hungria (undecided), Christstely Mboungou (undecided), Karim Ouedraogo (undecided), and Sekou Konneh (SUNY-Onondaga).
This is just our second graduating class, and our first to feature students who have been with South Bronx United for at least two years. It has been an honor to work with this group of outstanding young men. Watching them grow over the course of their time with South Bronx United, to see them complete high school, and to see them excited and prepared to begin the next step in their lives is what this organization is all about.
Some words to the graduates: Congratulations, as high school graduates you have cleared the first gateway that opens up an entirely new realm of choices for yo. You now have a responsibility to yourself, your family, and your community to do more. The next gateway, that of becoming a college graduate lies in front of you. This opportunity before you has been closed to millions, so do not take it lightly. It is also a challenge that many have failed at. According to the Census Bureau and National Center for Education Statistics, 1 in every 3 students drop out of college in their first year (read more: Percentage of First Year College Dropouts and College Drop Out rates; Who’s to Blame?). Also, do not take the value of a college degree lightly. According to a recent article in the New York Times, “Even for Cashier’s College Pays Off,” full time workers with a bachelor’s degree made 83 percent more than those with a high school diploma only. This applies to jobs across the board. So, whatever situation may arise, know that the value of finishing college far exceeds any temptation to quit.
When you need support, know that SBU’s door will always be open to you. SBU should continue to be a resource to you. Also, we hope that you come back to visit frequently and serve as a role model for the youth that look to follow in your footsteps. One day, in the not to distant future, you will be taking my place and the place of your coaches, teachers, doctors, lawyers, politicians, community leaders, law enforcement officers, businesspeople, and nonprofit organization directors in helping make your community, country, and work a better place.