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The Graduates of 2013!
Master of Ceremonies for the evening, KTLA 5 Morning News Co-Anchor, Chris Schauble
The Department of Children and Family Services celebrated their annual graduation ceremony with nearly a repeat of $900,000 in scholarships.
On Tuesday, June 4, at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, 179 foster youth, that’s 19 more than last year, took to the stage to celebrate one of the most important landmarks in life… their high school graduation. The Los Angeles County Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) celebrated their 24th Annual “Celebration 2013: Honoring the Academic Achievements of Foster Youth” with proud graduates, family and friends.
KTLA 5 Morning News Co-Anchor, Chris Schauble served as Master of Ceremonies for the event and welcomed guest speakers, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, DCFS Director, Philip L. Browning, Chief Probation Officer, Jerry E. Powers, Alumnus Speaker Daisy Gonzalez, Celebration Alumna, Class of 2003 and featured guest speaker, David Ambroz, Esq.
Both Schauble and Ambroz are positive examples of foster youth and encouraged the youth to follow their dreams and draw strength from their life experiences. Schauble is active in the community having dedicated his time to helping children find homes and is recognized by the city and state for his community involvement.
The graduates have worked hard to get to this point in their young lives showing courage, perseverance and determination. Their hard work was applauded by cheers, claps and whistles from loving foster families and friends. Once again, close to $1 million dollars was awarded in scholarships to youth, all of which, will be attending colleges and universities some of which include, Moorhouse College, Stanford, Columbia, UCLA, and UC Berkeley just to name a few.
From Left to Right: DCFS graduate, Courtney Bell, DCFS Director, Philip L. Browning & DCFS graduate Phillip Aubrey.
Courtney Bell, Phillip Aubrey and Ashley Mitchell are three youths who beat the odds and are headed towards bright futures.
“I’m very excited to graduate,” said Bell. “I’ve been through a lot, so just to overcome those struggles and graduate, it’s really exciting to me.”
Bell graduated from Switzer Learning Center, a private school in Torrance, CA. She will be attending Long Beach City College and plans on majoring in Computer Science in hopes of creating new software in the future.
“I hope to further technology and actually specialize in it.”
Aubrey has gone above and beyond most students having started the mentoring program, Souls United, for at-risk youth and Isis Tutoring. Graduating from King Drew Medical Magnet High School and going to Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts in the fall, you can definitely say Aubrey has “high hopes.”
“I’m really excited,” said Aubrey. “I’ve been getting a lot of support, I’m really amped about that. A lot of people are here to help—love that and everyone here has got their own story, excited about graduating—I’m just really happy to see all the bright faces. “
Aubrey plans to major in International Business Entrepreneurship and Business Administration. He hopes to start his own bank in the future.
Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children & Family Services, Philip L. Browning shared remarks and congratulations to the graduates
Browning was happy to see foster youth overcome their challenges and accomplish this particular goal. He shared some words of wisdom with the graduating youth.
“It is exciting, we have [about] 180 youth who have done such a fantastic job over the last couple of years to get to where they are now,” said Browning. “This is a culmination, in one respect, but it is the beginning in another.
“This is just amazing for these young people to be able to come here, get recognized and move forward with their life.”
Mitchell is graduating from Ganesha High School in Pomona, CA. She will be off to California State University Channel Islands to study Psychology.
“It feels really good,” said Mitchell. “I’m amazed, I’m glad everybody is graduating and going off to a four-year college.”
“The future is bright, it’s going to take a lot of hard work, effort and energy,” said Browning. “There are going to be some disappointments but you just got to keep going… there’s a bright future out there whether its in college, work or the military.
“There are so many opportunities now that didn’t exist 40 or 50 years ago.”
“Never give up,” said Mitchell, “keep pushing through and you’ll get there.”
DCFS Director Philip Browning with DCFS graduate Ashley Mitchell
All Photos by Brian W. Carter