The evening of Friday, February 24th saw the coming together of family, friends, coworkers, employers, case workers, and probation officers to celebrate the achievement of nearly two dozen individuals who are overcoming their past and creating a new future.
This was the Career Training & Employment Center (CTEC) Spring Graduation!
Mr. Arnold Perkins was our Emcee for the evening. Mr. Perkins has been an advocate for unreserved populations for over 30 years and has supported BOSS and the CTEC program for several years. This is his fourth time being the Front Man for the CTEC celebratory events. He did an amazing job as always, and gave many great pieces of advice and words to lift up the self. “Your life is a result of the choices you make. If you don’t like your life, it’s time to make better choices … The sky is not the limit, your mind is.” Part of his bid to encourage Graduates and current participants to keep coming back, to keep giving back, and to keep moving the community forward together, “Life is a book .. made up of your journey. So if you want your book to be interesting, from now on you have to do interesting things, because you leave a legacy.”
Our first Speaker was CNN Political Commentator, Van Jones. Mr. Jones was still in the East Coast watching the political waters swirl, and therefore he could not attend in person, but he made a powerful and inspirational video of us! And we get to share it with you!
Oakland City Councilwoman Annie Campbell Washington came out to encourage and celebrate with our graduates. “Thank you and congratulations! You have so much to give to our community and our youth!”
Al Sasser was our Keynote Speaker, and what an inspiration he was. He grew up in South-Central LA, got mixed up in gangs, and violence, and drugs. At the age of 19 he was a long-term guest of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation with a prison sentence of 19 years to life. Thirty-one years into his sentence, he was paroled and he pledged to ever stay at that particular hotel again. ” It wasn’t just about getting out; it was about staying out.” He has since become an outspoken advocate for our community. His words of wisdom to the Graduates: Other people’s opinions about you do not have to become your reality … Ordinary people can do extraordinary things.
Valedictorian Alexander Claxton came to the podium to share stories about his life, his choices, and his new direction, “I asked myself, ‘Why am I putting at risk my wife’s husband, my child’s father, my mothers son? I can’t be mad at anyone but me. We need to take care of our community. We would rather talk about somebody than talk to somebody.'” Mr. Claxton is a Case Manager in the CTEC Program and is now giving back to his community as well as his family.
Our last award was to Graduate Jamal. He was recognized through the Academic Achievement Award for earning a 3.66 GPA in his first semester at Merritt College! He is also working and supporting his family. We wish him all the best and are always here for any additional support he may need in future.
The Spring 2017 CTEC Graduation may be over, but it has not, and will not be forgotten. The individuals who worked so hard to succeed will never forget. Their friends and family who watched them and supported them will never forget. Also, because the local FOX affiliate, KTVU was on hand to document, interview, and get-the-word-out about all the hardworking our Graduates did to achieve this recognition, the internet, and all of the Bay Area will not forget!
We posted the entire celebration to Facebook LIVE! You can view the entire thing on Facebook!
We will likely have another celebration in the Fall of 2017, so stay tuned for information on that! If you’re interested in volunteering, or training, or hiring participants from out CTEC Program, we would love to hear from you!
CTEC serves citizens returning from incarceration and other high risk individuals — if you or someone you know needs employment assistance, reach out to the CTEC offices!