At the Carlos Rosario School 2017 graduation ceremony and naturalization celebration more than 400 immigrant adult learners completing citizenship, career training, GED, and ESL programs walked across the stage. The ceremony took place at the Columbia Heights Education Campus in front of a packed audience including graduates, their families and friends, and school supporters.

2017 Nurse Aide Training graduate Manuel Rodriguez, originally from the Dominican Republic, kicked off the event and talked about his dream of becoming a doctor. The remarks of this hardworking graduate were followed by a welcome from CEO Allison Kokkoros and a tribute to deceased former council member and dear friend of the school Jim Graham. Jackie Reyes, Director of the Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs, Council Member Brianne Nadeau and DC PCSB Board Chair Darren Woodruff brought greetings and commended the graduates on their accomplishments.

The keynote address came from Carlos Rosario School alumna Fatima Zeroual from Morocco. Upon completing English classes at the Carlos Rosario School, she completed an undergraduate degree with support from a Carlos Rosario scholarship and just completed her Master’s Degree in Finance. She is currently working in the accounting division of the D.C. Department of Transportation and recently started a nonprofit, Ibno Sabeel, that is dedicated to empowering women and children. Her message to the graduating class was “We must never, ever give up. Stay focused and work hard. You have to knock on all the doors. You have to knock until one of them opens for you.”

Reflecting on the graduates and their strength in persistence, CEO Allison Kokkoros said, “These graduates truly embody the American spirit of hard work and dedication. They are making a positive impact at home with their families, in their places of work, and out in the larger community.”

Unique to this year’s ceremony was a new student portrait series, which was created in honor of National Immigrant Month and focused on the stories of individual adult learners. The project aimed to empower students to tell their narrative in their own words. Learn More about the project.