On Wednesday, October 23rd more than 50 family, friends, and community members joined staff and students to celebrate the nine 2018-19 graduates of Action Inc.’s COMPASS Program. The students, all aged between 16 and 24, completed all five components of the High School Equivalency Test (HiSET), similar to the well-known GED.
The students graduated from the COMPASS Youth Program, which is designed for students ages 16-24 who have withdrawn from high school but are looking to continue their education and obtain their HiSET Diploma. In addition to individual tutoring and small class instruction, COMPASS students work with Action Inc. staff to explore college and career opportunities to build a more secure future for themselves and their families.
Graduation took place at the North Shore Arts Association, where students were congratulated by Gloucester Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken and Action Inc.’s Executive Director, Peggy Hegarty-Steck, who commended students for their effort and determination, congratulated them on their accomplishments and provided encouragement and inspiration for what they can achieve in their futures.
Catherine Aiello, one of the graduating class addressed her classmates, congratulating them on their hard work and perseverance. “We worry about our full-time jobs, children, and husbands,” she told them. “When you’re 17, 18, or 19 and have to worry about living arrangements, feeding yourself, and taking care of tiny humans, graduating seems to be the last thing on your mind. I applaud you for taking the steps to better yourself and the situation you found yourself in. Life threw a lot at you because you could handle it. And you did, because you’re here today.”
For some graduates, their next steps will include going to college, while others plan to go directly into the workforce. “We are incredibly proud of all our graduates,” explained Nikki Klink Marin, Director of Education & Training at Action Inc. “They have worked so hard and overcome so much to be standing here in their caps and gowns. This is an incredible achievement, especially when you consider how many of our students are working multiple jobs, providing for their families, or even worrying about where they are going to sleep tonight. Many of these young people have had to endure so much in their lives, we are honored to be able to help them reach their potential.”
“This is a critical time in their lives”, said Peggy Hegarty-Steck of the graduates. “If we can reach these young people and provide the support they need at this crucial point, we can help ensure they have more secure and more successful futures. Action Inc.’s COMPASS program will turn 20 this year, and providing opportunities to young people in our community will continue to be a priority for us.”
The graduating students were: Haylee Aberegg, Catherine Aiello, David Avila, Brianna Couchon, Isabelle Gagne, Somolly Long, Allie Mirthil, Travis Shank, and Dominique Spinola.