A former gang member and convict who chose homelessness over returning to gang culture. Two young women who dropped out of high school — one to financially support her family after her father fell ill and the other because of an unplanned pregnancy.
These are Valencia graduates who embody our mission, having endured and achieved despite immense obstacles. Today, they are known as the Valencia Alumni Association’s Mary Smedley Collier Distinguished Graduates: Angel Sanchez (2014 distinguished graduate); Rebecca Nash (2015 distinguished graduate); and Emmy Torres (2016 distinguished graduate).
These are the students who inspire our mission, who tell our story and empower others to overcome whatever challenges they face. These are the students who tell their peers “We don’t settle; we succeed” and who demonstrate the power of commitment and dedication.
As faculty and staff, it is vital that we seek out these students, offer them our support and champion their perseverance. In doing so, we cannot only lift them up but highlight their efforts to others who, amidst their own struggles, require inspiration to succeed.
You can play your role in doing so by encouraging students to apply to be the 2017 Distinguished Graduate — so that they can receive the recognition they deserve and lead their graduating class into the future as the 2017 commencement keynote speaker.
But act fast: The application deadline is this Friday, February 24, 2017.
For more information on the application process, click here.