This was the night of celebration for the graduating class of 2010 and a night of inspiration for one in line like myself. I look forward to next year when I will give my own graduating speech to the Project Exploration audience. I spent the night talking with a hopeful crowd of young men and women and their families along with the ever energetic staff of Project Exploration. The ceremony took place in the Garfield Park Conservatory. One could not ask for a better venue and better weather. The Program’s welcome speech was delivered by the Assistant Director Christian Greer who made a compelling comment on life with a puzzle analogy. Throughout our life we are putting the pieces of puzzles together, to get the picture right. It’s not easy but with right strategy one can get it right. Each table had puzzle boxes as a take home gift.
Former PE student Tanya James was the key note speaker. Tanya joined PE in 2005 and is currently studying Social Work at Jarvis Christian College in Texas. She stated “when I came to Project Exploration I was a shy person, I knew nothing about science. But the way this program presented science to me, I didn’t even know I was learning science. I took what I learned and applied it to my life.” She encouraged students to keep going and “never let any negativity stop you, just follow your inner voice.”
The best part of the senior celebration and every project exploration event were the alum speeches. De’ Andre Brown graduated from Hyde Park Career academy. De’Andre said initially I went to PE just to get some service learning hours but then i kept going there, PE became almost my second home. Almost every testimony from a Project Exploration student mention change.
Rana Tuggle joined Sisters for science in 2005, she was in 7th grade then. Rana said PE has helped her learn not only science but gave her great opportunity to establish a network of support and taught her how to connect with people. The most memorable moments of her life were when she went for the All Girls Expedition in 2007.
Antonio Johnson became Junior paleontologist in 2006 . He is graduating fromLincoln Park High school. Antonio recalls , “when I joined PE I was really very shy and quiet person. PE helped me learn who I am.” It is here , I made lifelong friends.
Steven Reyes is graduating from Whitney Young Magnet high school. He has been a part of Dinosaur Giants in 2007-09 as well as On-Site Coordinator for 2010. He stated “PE has enhanced my knowledge of Biology and Anatomy as well as helped me open up to other people. PE has provided me with resources I needed to move on, guidance support when I need it the most”.
This event was not just for graduating high school students. There were College graduates also. Gerald Turner is a college graduate and has been with PE since 2000. Gerald told the students, what he got most from PE was not only science but something beyond science, it was connecting with people and reaching out to others.
Kit was one of the most senior members of PE . He has been with the program since 1999 and he advised students “cherish this moment, leave your prints on this planet, know that you have the power to change”.
Dr. Paul Sereno, greeted the students and their families and personally delievered the good news of a new addition to his family, a baby boy and perhaps the youngest member of PE family.
PE continues it’s tradition of giving. Each student received a bag filled with ” life saving” devices, such as financial resource guide, a jump drive, writing pen, safe sex informative brochure, and a water canteen. But what i took from this event was not inside of a brown paper gift bag. What i took was the stories about change from the students at the dinner. When those students walk off the stage over the next couple of days it will be because of the immeasurable support Project Exploration continues to give students. Everyone of us Project Exploration students has a success story to tell, all thanks to our adventures with PE