June 21, 2011

Graduation Season: From the Executive Director

Posted in From The Executive Director at 6:45 pm by Lund

I recently attended LFC’s Honoring Ceremony; Lund’s very own version of “graduation.” Each year, I am moved and humbled by the young women who are celebrated for their educational and vocational successes in our programs. This year it really hit home for me. I had just been to my son’s college graduation a few weeks earlier. The juxtaposition between the two helped me think a lot about the world and in particular, our work at Lund.The college graduation was exhilarating and so exciting to see my son, Isaac and his friends get lots of accolades and celebrate their educational successes. It was also a time to hear lots of commencement speeches offering advice to graduates, and lots of emotion as a chapter of life was ending, and a new one about to begin. Many friends were scattering to different parts of the country and world to begin the next chapter. Some knew what was next, and others didn’t.

At Lund, I witnessed many of our young women be celebrated: Some for graduating high school, others for completing their GED, the 10th or 11th grade. Still others were celebrated for their success in our job training program or our teen pregnancy prevention outreach panel.

As many of the young women got up to get their certificates, they brought their infants or young children up with them. It was a visible reminder that the women at our graduation don’t have the same luxury that the college students I had seen a few weeks earlier had. These women are mothers 24/7. They can’t just concentrate on their studies. Many of our celebrants were new Americans.  In addition to motherhood to contend with, they also had a new language and culture to navigate.

For so many of our celebrants, they are the first to be finishing high school in their families and considering higher education.

We assured my son that he could land at home for a bit  (as 70% of college graduates do, according to a national poll I just heard). I started to worry about where our young women go when they leave school?  The same poll I heard stated that over 50% of young people under 25 do not have jobs. Not everyone in our programs has a  family that they can land with while they navigate the job finding process.

I am helping my 21 year old learn the art of resume writing, cover letters, networking, interviewing etc. This comes on the heels of the lessons learned in college of finding an apartment. Graduation also meant learning more about what tenants need to do at the end of a lease- turning off utilities, securing security deposits, cleaning and leaving an apartment in good shape. The lessons in life that some of us may now take for granted are not necessarily taught in high school or college, or at home.

Lund’s comprehensive services provide young women with multiple-job training and independent living skills so that our clients can get these skills and information if they need it.

Our young women have so many roadblocks that could keep them from being successful–pregnancy, parenting, poverty. Most of our young women have had some tough stuff happen to them in their lives such as abuse, neglect or violence. It’s no wonder that the national statistic is that 70% of teen mothers don’t complete high school.

Still, last week, we had several young women who DID get their diplomas and many more who completed another level of their high school education.

There is so much promise and potential for our young graduates. It’s exciting to be part of their journey. Our staff are working every day to help it to be a successful one.

Barbara Signature

Barbara Rachelson, MSW
Executive Director
Lund Family Center

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