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Special Graduation Ceremony Marks Major Milestone for Youth Who Overcame Challenges

August 28, 2017


For young adults, graduation is a turning point in their lives. On Thursday, June 15, 2017, young

people from the 412 Youth Zone boarded the Gateway Clipper for a special graduation ceremony.

The ceremony was to publicly commend youth enrolled at the Youth Zone for graduating high school or college/trade school or earning a GED. In a room packed with family, friends and 412 Youth Zone staff, current Zone participant Isis C. emceed the evening, and guest speaker Jasmine Guest, a former Foster Care youth and now a Youth Service Provider in Allegheny County, captivated the audience with a personal anecdote.

One of the honored graduates was Naomi D. The 18 year-old donned a white graduation cap and received a certificate of achievement in honor of graduating from Clairton High School.

Life has not always been easy for Naomi. Prior to coming to the Youth Zone, she was having difficulty finding a steady job and was in multiple foster homes. The young mother, who is expecting her second son later this year, found not only the Youth Zone but also a life coach who has helped her make life-changing decisions for herself and for her family.“My youth coach, Ms. Sofia, has helped me in so many ways I actually have lost count,” Naomi said. “She has been there for me since day one, and I truly appreciate her. The Youth Zone gives you so many opportunities, and my advice for anyone in the program is that you should take them.”

With her Youth Coach at her side, Naomi has gotten her identification, secured a part-time job, and is close to having her own apartment.“Naomi is a hardworking and positive youth. She is determined to make a better life for herself and her kids. She is always taking steps in the right direction, and it has been a pleasure for me to work with her on achieving her goals,” Sofia M. said. “I have no doubts that Naomi will continue to be successful in her future.” As for her future plans after graduation, Naomi plans to be the best mother she can be to her two boys and attend nursing school to become a certified nursing assistant.

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