HYPE graduates advance to the next level
The cheers were long and loud at Centennial's HYPE Class of 2016 graduation ceremony on August 11 at Progress Campus, where participants were recognized by their families and friends for their achievement. More than 100 young people committed most of their summer to participate in HYPE – Helping Youth Pursue Education – a tuition-free learning experience that can open doors to higher education and rewarding careers.
Over the past six weeks the students, aged 17 to 29, took part in six career-oriented courses in business fundamentals, human development, automotive technology, esthetics, introduction to computers and digital media. The initiative promotes education attainment by reducing barriers to participation for youth living in under-served neighbourhoods primarily in Toronto's east end. One-third of HYPE graduates go on to pursue full-time studies at college in the fall.
"I came to Canada in 2007 and it took me seven months to learn English," Marco Turcios, the class valedictorian, told the audience. He immigrated to Canada from Honduras. "I didn't take school seriously for a long time, but I learned life is short and it is taken for granted. My motivation for coming to Centennial is my son," he told the enthusiastic crowd. "I met some amazing people here in the program."
Centennial introduced career counselling sessions to participants this year, and continued to offer help with student loan applications. The college also added HYPE Works Express – a one-week program designed to increase employment readiness for youth who have to work prior to full-time study, or who may have to work part-time during college. HYPE Works Express will be partially funded by TD Bank Group beginning in 2017.
Centennial College Board of Governors member Gretta Vosper told the audience that former Toronto Mayor David Miller had attended the first graduation ceremony in 2004 and called it the highlight of his first year in office– a boast he shared with the Globe and Mail. The training initiative is rooted in Miller's Community Safety Plan, designed to bring programming to youth living in designated neighbourhoods. Community partners help to identify potential students, who are invited to apply to HYPE every summer.