"It's never too late to be whoever you want to be." F. Scott Fitzgerald.
For six new graduates of St. Martin's Manor, this message hits close to home.
As an education centre for young mothers, graduation celebrates more than just the earning of a high school diploma. It honours the perseverance, strength and courage each graduate endured to reach that point.
"Today we celebrate how extraordinary you are. Where you've been, what you've accomplished, but also what lies ahead," said Master of Ceremonies Sarah Anderson.
Sitting among an audience of proud family members, friends, and classmates, students were praised for not only their continuous dedication to their studies, but for paving a bright future for them and their child.
Pat Daly, Chairperson of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board brought warm greetings to the graduates, referring to them as "inspirational."
"What you have given and sacrificed for your child or children and the commitment you've made to better their lives and your own is truly inspiring," he said. "I hope receiving your secondary school diploma helps you to realize all of your dreams. You are blessed with a life of fulfillment and success."
Each graduate, humbled in their accomplishment, took the opportunity to acknowledge and thank the manor for welcoming them and pushing them to pursue their dreams.
Among them, Nikki Tirabassi stepped up to thank her son for motivating her to do her best in order to provide for him.
The graduation also honoured students, not necessarily graduates, in an award ceremony that recognized different achievements, such as the Kindness Award, or the Manor Award of Excellence.
"Though your life experiences may be different, something that you do have in common is the leap of faith and courage of coming to St. Martin's Manor," said Principal of St. Charles Adult and Continuing Education Michael Silvestro.
"You took that challenge and succeeded and became role models for your children."
St. Martin’s Manor is a Young Parent, Infant & Children’s Centre for pregnant and parenting young women and their children. They provide residence for prenatal and postnatal stays, as well as day programs for young women who live in the community. In collaboration with St. Charles Adult and Continuing Education and the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, they run an on-site high school so young mothers are given the opportunity to attend school while at St. Martin’s Manor. For more information, please visit: https://www.cfshw.com/st-martin-s-manor