On August 2nd, the “Introduction to Infrastructure Careers — Gateway to Opportunity” summer program held its first graduation ceremony at the Cardozo Education Campus, District of Columbia Public Schools for seventeen (17) rising juniors and seniors enrolled in the Cardozo TransSTEM Academy. The students were joined by family and friends, representatives from many of the major sponsors, including Industry Sector Coordinators, program hosts and speakers, and other supporters.
The Honorable Rodney E. Slater, Partner, Squire Patton Boggs LLP; and former Secretary, US Department of Transportation(Clinton Administration) was the graduation Keynote Speaker. A longstanding Cardozo TransSTEM Academy champion, it was extremely meaningful and particularly fitting to have him speak to this next generation of Cardozo TransSTEM Academy infrastructure sector leaders. An ardent proponent of leadership development in the transportation sector, he spearheaded the initial and early years of USDOT funding for Cardozo’s TransSTEM Academy (previously TransTech). Through the Garrett A. Morgan program, it is estimated that his national work in advancing funding for “people-readiness” programs in the transport sector has touched an estimated 3 million young people. His uplifting message one of steadfast perseverance and resilience, continued hope in our collective ability to achieve a better future; and, personal responsibility.
The three (3) Program Partners “welcomed” all of the guests – Cardozo TransSTEM Academy(Cheryl Rodgers, Director), APTA Platinum Sponsor(Freddie Fuller, II, APTA, Secretary-Treasurer, COMTO Chairman, and Jacobs Vice President, Electronic Payment Systems) and IYAI+(Founder, Dr. Bev Scott – Mistress of Ceremonies). Followed by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Dr. Menna Demessie, Vice President of Policy Analysis and Research whose remarks emphasized the importance of partnerships and doing all that we can to achieve sustainable and equitable infrastructure investment for all communities — a national and global imperative; HDR Senior Vice President, Global Transit Director, Tom Waldronwho Dr. Bev recognized as both a major corporate and individual sponsor; and, a colleague of many years who has been a voice of encouragement and support for the IYAI+ mission since its inception; IYAI+ Summer Program Administrator/Lead Instructor, Porshia McCall, M.Ed. who introduced the Graduating Class Speakers: Aida Hilaire, a rising junior and Okeino Gordon, rising junior who shared personal and class reflections.
During the final week of the Program, each student formally presented their Class Portfolio. The Portfolio included three elements: a Personal Profile; highlights of their Major Take-Aways from the overall Program experience; and their “My Beloved Community”infrastructure impact story (“docu-short”). The Class Portfolios selected for special recognition were: 1stPlace(tied): Nayeli Zapata and Okeino Gordon; 2ndPlace(tied): Andriana Mendez and Aida Hilaire; and 3rdPlace: Christopher Villalta.
Dr. Bev provided a brief overview of IYAI+’s “My Beloved Community” transformative justice initiative in collaboration with the Charles Hamilton HoustonInstitute for Race & Justice, Harvard University Law School– publicly thanking David Harris, the Institute’s Director, and Bob Glover, videographer/storyteller extraordinaire for their assistance. An IYAI+ program initiative which she credits as being inspired by Board Member, Mrs. Juanita-Jones Abernathy(wife of the late Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, Sr., a leader of the Civil Rights movement, close friend and mentor of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.) who personally lived every step of the momentous struggle and journey of the American Civil Rights movement of the past 50-plus years.The Program closed with a Luncheon Invocation byRev. Bobby Livingston, Mount Bethel Baptist Church, who directly participated as one of the Program speakers during the water sector week; and, final comments by Cheryl Rodgers, Cardozo TransSTEM Academywho recognized all of the students and thanked all for their participation and support.