Adult Ed Graduation
Kimra Pierre of Pleasantville address graduates at the Adult Education Commencement Ceremony at Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES Tuesday.
Kimra Pierre graduated from high school in Dominica 20 years ago but needed a refresher before entering college. Stanley Wes Lalasingh needed a GED so he could pursue college studies in physical therapy. And Charles Vasquenzo who left school as a sophomore more than 40 years ago said he wanted to “finally get on with the show.”
All three shared their stories with classmates, friends and family gathered for the Adult Education Commencement Ceremony at Putnam/Northern Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational Services Tuesday evening.
Pierre, Lalasingh and Vasquenzo were among 119 graduates, some of whom came from half way around the world and others who came from towns and cities right in Westchester County. BOCES Adult Education programs provide classes in basic education, GED preparation and English as a second language to approximately 3,700 students throughout Westchester and Putnam counties.
Despite having children and working two jobs, Pierre, a Pleasantville resident, managed to get to adult education classes every Monday and Wednesday night. “There were often times when I felt like giving up but I am not a quitter,” she said. “My teacher Doris (Riendeau) was very encouraging. She said I would do well and I did.”
Pierre is now studying business management and marketing at the College of Westchester and hopes to open her own business in the future.
Lalasingh of Peekskill said he did not always “listen to the wisdom” of his parents when he was in high school and left school without a diploma. When he came to BOCES, however, he said he was ready to learn and focused on his future. He now plans to study physical therapy in college.
Unlike the other two speakers, Vasquenzo of Carmel has been out in the world, married and raised a daughter. In fact, it was after his wife of 40 years died from cancer in 2010 that he decided to remedy his lack of a high school diploma. But it wasn’t easy, he said. Frustrated by his inability to quickly master the math required for a diploma, he said he walked out on one of the early classes. But he came back and as he said, “something good happened.” He gained confidence as his work improved and became determined to succeed.
“During our class, some of us would run into problems, be it math, writing or language, someone would step up and try to help,” he said. “…It made me proud to be part of a group of people who had your back and asked for nothing in return.”
Among the graduates this year were a married couple, Danny and Maria Vinanzaca, and sisters, Michelle Maglio and Deborah Lamash.
In her closing remarks, BOCES Assistant Superintendent Dr. Lynn Allen told the graduates: “I hope for you what my parents hoped for me; I hope your education leads you to being whatever you dream of being in this world.”