Graduation season is always a time for celebration at First Place as we recognize the academic acheivement of our young people. This year, we are especially proud of those who persevered to earn diplomas, certificates, and degrees even as they faced the unprecedented challenges brought on by the COVID-19 crisis.

Every step forward in education puts our young people on stronger footing for the long-term success in independence we know is possible.

Formal portrait of young man sitting with chin resting on hand, looking straight into cameraWith restrictions on gatherings, honoring this year’s graduates required some creative thinking by our staff. In Santa Clara County, staff surprised young people with celebratory care packages, while our San Francisco and Solano County Independent Living Skills Programs quickly adapted their annual graduation ceremonies to be held via video conference.

Addressing his fellow high school graduates at SF ILSP, Ziyad (pictured) acknowledged the many challenges they’ve all come through in their lives to reach this milestone and encouraged them to “rise, become what you want to become and don’t let anyone say no.” Ziyad’s rise will continue as he joins the Class of 2024 at California Polytechnic University, Pomona.

For Rami, A First Place participant in Los Angelels who earned her associate’s degree in psychology from Santa Monica College, a place to call home and the support of her First Place team has been instrumental in allowing her to pursue her goals.

“When you don’t have a support system, you don’t have a family, and you don’t have help, how can you do it all all by yourself?” she asks. “First Place changed my life. It made me want to be better and do better, and it helped me take my mind off things that I shouldn’t be worried about at this age and and focus on things I need to at this time in my life.”

Rami will be transfering to a four-year university in the fall to continue working toward her bachelor’s degree.

For Ziyad, Rami, and so many more, graduation is just the beginning. With your generous support, First Place can continue to provide life-changing services for those in the class of 2020 and far beyond, helping them set themselves up for lasting success.

Read on for select highlights of the Class of 2020 at First Place

High School Diplomas

Angelica A.

Angelica graduated with multiple awards and honors and will be enrolling in community college. She is interested in a career in real estate.

Kiana B.

Kiana will be continuing on to Solano Community College and is currently undecided on a major.

Kamilla C.

Kamilla earned her diploma from Monrovia Adult School and is enrolling in LACC to study engineering.

Karina G.

Karina is in the process of selecting a college with plans to study psychology or English

Nathen J.

Nathen will be continuing on to Solano Community College, undecided on major.

Patrick J.

Patrick plans to study Business and Real Estate at Solano Community College.

Mar’Queona L.

Mar’Queona will be studying nursing at Solano Community College

Jorge L.

Jorge is currently in physical training in preparation to join the U.S. Marine Corps

Demetrius M.

Demetrius has enrolled for the summer term at El Camino College and will be majoring in business.

Samantha M

Samantha is in the process of choosing a community college and will be exploring careers working with and supporting young people.

Janeisha S.

Janeisha will be continuing on to Solano Community College and is currently undecided on a major.

Ja’Leah S.

Ja’Leah will study Arts and Communication at Solano Community College

Maxine S.

Maxine will be pursuing her associates in Liberal Arts at Napa Community College

Crystal V.

Crystal will be continuing on to Solano Community College and is currently undecided on a major.

Joseph W.

Joseph will be continuing on to Solano Community College and is currently undecided on a major.

Ashantae W.

Ashantae has already begun classes in pre-law at Sac City Community College

Graduates at San Francisco ILSP

24 SFILP participants, including Ziyad, earned their high school diplomas this year.

Degrees and Certificates

Mia A.

Mia earned her CNA certificate from the Westchester School of Nursing and will be continuing on to pursue a Licensed Vocational Nursing degree.

Keymah B

Keymah earned a phlebolomy certification and has moved to Las Vegas to pursue job opportunities in health care.

Asya C.

Asya earned her associates degree in Sociology from LA Trade and Technical College and has been accepted to both San Francisco State University and CSU Dominguez Hills to complete her bachelor’s.

Carlos D.

Carlos completed his associates degree at DeAnza College and plans to study business at San Jose State University.

Daijah H.

Daija earned her associate’s degree in Liberal Arts from Southwest Community College. She has enrolled in Cal State Bakersfield for the fall semester and hopes to eventually earn her master’s degree in elementary education.

Jai J.

Jai graduated from UC Berkeley with a bachelor’s of science degree in Molecular & Cell Biology and a minor in Race and Law.

Kelly R.

Kelly completed the dental assistant program at Concorde College and is in the process of finding full-time work in the field.

Dashawn T.

Dashawn completed the Cypress Mandela construction training program and found employment in the field. He hopes to eventually own his own construction company.