On December 1st, the 209th class of our Moving Ahead Program (MAP) officially graduated and received their (well-earned) diplomas. The ceremony was marked by smiles, cheers, and a palpable sense of achievement. These students have not only completed a rigorous, 14-week workforce development program but have also cultivated the skills and insights needed to address challenges in all facets of life.
One of the highlights of the ceremony was an inspiring speech delivered by one of the graduates, Stefanie. Stefanie’s words captured both the essence of her journey and the transformative power of education.
“You’re Getting in My Way” by Stefanie Madden, MAP Class 209
I was overwhelmed with life when I showed up at St. Francis House. I was trying to apply for jobs online at home, and realized I had no idea what I was doing. I showed up to see the case manager of the day and was introduced to Mike, who became my case manager. Mike made the suggestion to go upstairs to the fourth floor, where I was introduced to Terry. After asking me a few questions, I was invited to join Lisa’s class on Monday.
I arrived Monday optimistic but skeptical. 14 weeks was asking a lot of me. As I sat in class going over the syllabus and getting introduced to staff here, I started thinking, “there is no way I can do this. There is no way I’ll be able to show up every day for 14 weeks.” I started thinking about other avenues I could take to use my time more wisely and not waste the staff’s time here.
And I realized how much I got in my own way.
I’m barely into the first week of MAP and I’ve already learned something about myself. All the support here at St. Francis House says I can do this, but all I’m hearing is the negativity in my own head. The voice that says I’m not good enough. Now I have to make a choice. I can go on believing the lies I tell myself or start listening to the support around me.
I start to feel proud of myself. Because I am going to finish something I started. I’m going to make it through these 14 weeks. But mentally I start to fall apart. Lisa encourages me and tells me I can do it. All I have to do is show up, and that is a victory in itself. At first, I think that sounds lame, but the more I think about it, I realize how true it is.
I’ve never been able to show up for life. Showing up to life is too hard. But whether I’m having a good day or a bad day, I’ve got to show up.
And that prepared me for much more than employment. That prepared me for life. I can apply what I have learned here in all parts of my life. To show up, to be responsible, and to make the best of it. Today I am finishing something I started. I’m seeing it all the way through, even though there were harder days than others.
I want to say thank you to the St. Francis House staff for getting in my way.
My advice for future MAP students: let someone get in your way.
As these graduates embark on new chapters in their lives, we can only anticipate the positive impact they will make in the world. The ceremony was not just a farewell; it was a commencement of new beginnings and endless possibilities.
Congratulations to the 209th MAP class for reaching this significant milestone!
To learn more about our Moving Ahead Program (MAP) and other workforce development programs, visit our website.