Celebrating the Graduating Class of 2024

Jun 20, 2024

Across the country, commencement ceremonies provide the chance for students and their families to celebrate a momentous accomplishment: graduating high school. For some, these ceremonies feel like an obligatory step in their lives as they prepare for college and their future careers. For others, taking part in these celebrations may feel unattainable at times. However, the youth we work with show determination and resilience in the face of uncertainty. As we celebrate the Graduating Class of 2024, we want to highlight the impact that support of our programs can have on young lives.

Natzumy, a McKinney Vento youth, has consistently exceeded expectations despite facing countless challenges. She joined our program at 14 years old and has been our most engaged youth, never missing individual or group meetings without rescheduling. She began by attending our Outreach Center daily for after-school tutoring and essential support. When the center closed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she demonstrated unwavering dedication by staying connected through our virtual mentoring program.

Although not attending her grad night, she was able to celebrate her graduation with a small family dinner. Showing their gratitude and generosity, her family invited her two case managers from StandUp for Kids to join as they celebrated her graduating high school with the highest honors.

Now, Natzumy is set to attend the University of California, Irvine to pursue a career in criminal justice.

Another graduate of the Class of 2024, Laura, is also celebrating her journey from hardship to hope. At 18 years old, Laura arrived from Mexico with her younger brother and faced the daunting challenge of paying $1,000 per month in rent to live in their aunt and uncle’s living room. Enrolling in our Road Map to Success mentoring program in January, she was significantly behind in credits and at risk of losing her housing due to financial strain.

Faced with the possibility of being kicked out, she contemplated dropping out of school to work full-time. Instead, Laura took on a grueling full-time job, working from 6:00PM to 6:00AM four days per week, while still attending school. Her unwavering determination paid off as she managed to get back on track to graduate.

Laura will be attending community college this fall while continuing to work full-time.

One of the most complex cases we’ve ever seen, Anna came to us as an 18-year-old unaccompanied youth who was told she likely would not be graduating. Through sheer hard work and perseverance, she was able to defy the odds by graduating on time. Though it’s been a close call, requiring her to take a course over the summer after the commencement ceremony, she was able to walk the stage and receive her diploma.

Her schooling was significantly impacted by severe anxiety, but she remained committed to achieving her goals in the face of adversity. Now, driven by a desire to help others navigate challenges similar to those she has faced, Anna will be attending Sacramento State University where she plans to study psychology and social work.

Housing and financial insecurity are not the only obstacles that youth must face. For Jesus, formidable language barriers were another challenge to overcome, but his determination to excel academically never wavered. During his case manager and mentoring meetings, he gradually became more confident in his English-speaking abilities. Consistently earning A and B letter grades throughout high school, his graduation stands as a powerful testament to his resilience and dedication.

Jesus is preparing to embark on his collegiate journey at Community College this fall.

Natzumy, Laura, Anna, and Jesus are all driven by unyielding work ethics and steadfast determination. They are all ready not only to thrive academically, but also to make significant strides toward achieving their future goals. Together, we can continue to spread kindness and opportunity to those who need it most, ensuring they receive the recognition and support they truly deserve. Congratulations to all of the graduates of the Class of 2024!