Monday, June 18, 2007

Celebration (or, It's not about the race)

A race - whether marathon, triathlon, or 5K - is not really what it's all about. The race is the celebration of all the training and lifestyle changes that lead up to the start line. Running 26.2 miles only comes after months, and in some cases years, of preparation, planning, eating right, sleeping enough, stretching, sweating, and sitting on the couch with feet in ice. Running the marathon is the icing, all the work leading up to it (and the resulting fitness) is the cake.

It's like that at MCC. Last week, we held our annual Ceremony of Achievement, a graduation for everyone who completed one of our training programs in the past year. For some, the graduation confers an associate degree - a great credential for breaking into a well-paying career in the burgeoning IT job market. For others, in our non-degree programs, graduation delivers a certificate of completion.

With a standing-room-only crowd at Moore College of Art and Design, MCC acknowledged the hard work and dedication of 386 men and women who completed our programs in the past year. Many completed training as long as 11 months ago, and have been steadily employed since. Others have just completed training, and are working with our staff to find that first job on the path to self-sufficiency.

Graduates, decked out in cap and gown, brought husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, children, friends, and neighbors to share in the celebration. About 20 percent of MCC students did not graduate high school, and for them, this may be the first graduation they have attended. We frequently work with students from families where no one has graduated high school. Ever.

While preparing the event, the security guard came over to repeat that often heard and always loved phrase, "I went to MCC!" She completed our program in Germantown about 15 years ago, and has been mostly employed since. She had a steady run for nearly a decade at Mellon Bank before they closed shop and most local jobs evaporated. Then another bank position before signing on with a security company. She is just the latest real-world reminder that MCC really does put people on the path, and most stay on it. Now that's something to celebrate!

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