It is a day that comes after much hard work and with much anticipation. It is without a doubt one of the most memorable and celebrated days in the career of a student – graduation day. On Thursday, June 14, the Carlos Rosario School held its graduation ceremony at the Columbia Heights Educational Campus.

More than three hundred proud graduates entered the room to the traditional tune “Pomp and Circumstance,” each donning clothing indicating their achievements. GED graduates in caps and gowns, future chefs in jackets, nurse aides in scrubs and others dressed in their finest with a blue stole around their necks cheered the momentous occasion of their graduation and hope for the future.

“You have accomplished a tremendous achievement,” Allison Kokkoros, the school’s CEO said. She kicked off the event by welcoming the audience, and extending gratitude to graduates, faculty and staff. Allison said that the graduation ceremony represents “the fierce determination of immigrant communities.” And directly addressing graduates she said: “You deserve it, and you are making this nation great.”

After congratulating the graduates on behalf of the DC Public Charter School Board, Rick Cruz praised their persistence, determination and hard work. He invited the graduates to think about how to make the most of their experience at the Carlos Rosario School. For the graduates, it means they can now go on to college, kitchens, hospitals and polling stations. It means a time to embrace new opportunities.

Graduate speaker Alberto Vazquez from Mexico said his five years learning English and Culinary Arts have empowered him. He is proud to see his dream of being a chef come true. To make the occasion even more momentous, he graduated at the same time as his 14-year-old son who lives in Mexico. He is proud to see his dream coming true not only for himself, but also his family.

Another graduate speaker, Yotsi Escobar from Peru, thanked the School for all the experiences and opportunities she was able to take advantage of She shared that it was the closing of her parents’ restaurant that motivated her to go to college and learn management skills. A 2018 GED graduate, Yotsi’s goal is to open her own Peruvian restaurant in D.C.

This graduation day, the Carlos Rosario School awarded the winners of its 2018 scholarship fund. A record number of 60+ graduates have been awarded more than $120,000 in scholarships this year. This will serve as additional financial resources to eligible students pursuing an education beyond high school at places like the University of the District of Columbia and Ana G. Mendez University, among others.

On behalf of the scholarship recipients, student speaker Pawoubadi Padou from Togo thanked the donors for supporting his dream to go to college and invited his classmates to give back to their communities. Pawoubadi announced that he is planning to give back by joining the U.S. military to serve his adopted country. The Chair Board of Trustees, Patricia Sosa reiterated this message. In closing remarks, she called on graduates to stay focused as they go forward in their education and professions, and to remain dedicated to pursuing their dreams.