Friday, June 8, 2012

Crossing the Finish Line

By Amanda Putnam, Guest Blogger

Anticipation lingers in the air as smartly dressed families wait patiently for the night to begin.  Graduates clutching congratulatory bouquets and wearing ear-to-ear grins are easy to spot amidst the crowd.  Two Simple Steps classes and two ALAS classes from the North Bay branch are gathered in the beautiful Marin Civic Center auditorium to mark their achievements in finishing the business training courses offered by Women’s Initiative.

This celebration marks the culmination of eleven weeks of classes, sixty-six hours of classroom time, plus countless more spent completing individual business plans.  For the vast majority of Women’s Initiative’s graduates, these tasks are completed despite having full-time jobs & family responsibilities.  The atmosphere swirls with conflicting emotions; sadness that this marks the end of a consistent & communal class setting, but also pride that they have made it to this point.

During the evening festivities, graduates are the star of the show and are highlighted at every opportunity.  The keynote speech is presented by a successful former graduate of the program, and each class elects representatives to share their thoughts.  Speeches vary between triumphant stories about overcoming personal obstacles and proficient elevator pitches for an upcoming business venture.  Diplomas are presented individually while cameras flash around the room.

Overall, the graduation ceremony is a visible finish line that can also be touted as the start of many successful careers.  Armed with knowledge and a completed business plan under her belt, each graduate holds up her head with confidence as she speaks about her future plans.  And that alone is something to celebrate.

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