Fedcap 2012 Graduation
Graduates aged 18-68 crossed the stage at Harlem’s World Famous Apollo Theater on Thursday to receive their Fedcap diplomas, as multiple generations of families and friends cheered them on.
“What a day – what a crowd – and what a great place to celebrate,” said Christine McMahon, Fedcap President and CEO, as she opened the proceedings.
More than 430 remarkable individuals overcame barriers and completed Fedcap’s educational, vocational and soft-skills programs this year, including many from programs of The Way to Work and Wildcat Service Corp., which combined with Fedcap in 2011, and from the Fedcap School in Orange, NJ. Even in this tough economy, about half have moved directly into jobs in culinary arts, custodial services, security, home healthcare and other fields.
The crowd of 800 heard from several graduates, alumni, employers and distinguished guests including Mark Wagar, President and CEO of Empire BlueCross BlueShield, who delivered an inspiring Commencement Address. The audience was full of cheering parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, partners and friends.
“My job means I can pay for rent and electricity and – most important – it means I have pride,” said Sabrina Clarke, 50, who completed Fedcap’s Data-Entry and Custodial Services training and now works for Restaurant Associates at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ms. Clarke, who was born deaf in Guyana, delivered her remarks in American Sign Language with voice interpretation by her Fedcap counselor, Diane Lisanti.
“I am a proud mother of a son who turned two years old last week. I am also a proud Fedcap Home Health Aide,” said Precious Allen, 22, who completed her training in September. “I attended John Jay College for Criminal Justice for two years, but I am seriously thinking about becoming a nurse. I plan to go back to college when my son is older.”
“I used to be on public assistance,” said Sharon Smith, 52. “Wildcat helped me get work cleaning the city homeless shelters, and they helped me apply for Fedcap Home Health Aide training. When I started my Fedcap training in April, I was homeless myself. I took one day off from my training to go to a housing interview – and I got a place of my own to live, right here in Harlem. Now I am going for my GED. I want to become a sonogram technician. When I walk in my door, I am soooo grateful.”
“Today it’s no longer about what Fedcap can do for me, now it’s about what I can do for Fedcap,” said Robert McCall, 49, who finished his Custodial Services training in January and is already working for Harvard Maintenance in a full-time job with benefits.