June 14, 2013

“It is a BIG deal” – New Horizons Honoring Ceremony 2013

Posted in Events, New Horizons Educational Program at 1:38 pm by Lund

“I want you to think about the gifts that you have been given, the people who have invested in your life and the people who have helped you along the way, many of whom are in this room today,”  said Lisa Ventriss of the Vermont Business Roundtable at the 2013 Honoring Ceremony celebrating the personal and academic achievements of the students in the New Horizon’s Educational Program.   Lisa urged the students to be grateful, to stay true to themselves and to never ever give up.  She also was full of congratulations and encouraged the young women to be proud of themselves and to recognize that what they had achieved was a “big deal.”

It is indeed a big deal to continue with your high school education while pregnant or parenting.  50% of young woman who become pregnant between the ages of 15 and 19 do not receive a high school diploma by the time they turn 22. (As per a CDC study)  Lund’s educational programs help students to battle this statistic.  4 young women were celebrated for receiving their high school diplomas and 19 others celebrated for continuing to advance in their education.    Participants in Lund’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program were celebrated also for their role in bringing the message about the challenges of being a young parent to middle and high school students around Vermont as well as at colleges and community organizations.

Lisa Ventriss urges the students to, in the words of Winston Churchill, "never never never never give up."

Lisa Ventriss urges the students to, in the words of Winston Churchill, “never never never never give up.”

A young audience member sneaks in a nap on the lap of a Lund staff member.

A young audience member sneaks in a nap on the lap of a Lund staff member.

A highlight of the ceremony  for many was a speech given by a 2011 graduate of the New Horizons Program, Tiffany Tenney, who is now a student at Champlain College and the busy mother of two year old twin girls.  “Lund is a family, ” she said, “a family the creates strong, stubborn women.  You can achieve whatever you want to achieve and Lund will support you.”

The room was full of family, friends, babies, Lund staff members, Lund board members, and special guests, to the point of spilling out of the doorways into the hall beyond.  People went through tissues quickly and almost every speaker had to compose themselves at one time or another as they gave testament to the hard work and perseverance of these young women as they strove to be good role models for their children by completing their own education.  “The work you have done towards earning your high school degree, even though it has been hard, is a big step towards a brighter future for yourself and your children.” Said Barbara Rachelson, Executive Director of Lund, when she addressed the crowd.

The idea of being a good role model continued as  Kim Coe, Director of Residential and Community Treatment, spoke to the students.  “Our staff are  helping these young women become their child’s first teacher.  This multi-generational approach to education is inherent in our Lund philosophy and our teachers carry this mission forward with great skill and unwavering passion.” she said.  And this point really hit home for one young woman who made an impromptu comment to the crowd after Kim spoke. “I want to thank you for that.  Thank you for helping us to teach our children.”  Gratitude abounding.

After the ceremony, during a reception with cupcakes baked by the New Horizons students, one of them showed pictures of her one week old son to Laura May Ackley, Lund’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Specialist.  “He has so much hair, and he looks just like me as a baby,” she said, her face bright and beaming.  “He’s such a mama’s boy.  I just didn’t know I could love someone so much. ”

Thanks to her own hard work at New Horizons and with support from other programs at Lund, this young woman is a proud parent firmly on the path to making a better life for her very new baby.

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