By Natalie Lynch | ACSS Volunteer
Before I heard the words, I knew something was unique about Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency’s 29th Graduating Class. There was something contagious and prideful in the widths of their smiles. The way they held their heads up high made them all appear taller than anyone else in the room.
At a March 22 graduation ceremony held at the Atlanta, Mission, Class 29 had earned bragging rights that day, with the highest graduation rate of any ACSS class. Many of the graduates obtained employment prior to graduation and still had perfect attendance records.
In the weeks leading up to graduation, members of each ACSS class are taught job-related skills as well as proficiencies for obtaining employment, such as help with resumes and how to answer tough interview questions.
It was quickly apparent why Danny Tennial was nominated for Class President and chosen to speak at graduation. He was a vibrant and enthusiastic speaker, who both amused and captivated the audience.
He told the graduates, “If you can’t walk, crawl… If you can’t be the sun, be a star.”
He told them to carry an affirmation each day and repeat it, “We are powerful, ambitious, creative, determined.”
Keynote speaker Maurice Novembre spoke humbly of his fall from grace. He worked in web design and media format for SDK International and had credits in the movie Hope. He got involved in what he called some “unsavory women and activities” and two years later, at age 25, was living out of his car.
With the help of ACSS, and a couple of years of hard work and determination, he obtained employment in the mailroom for a company.
He said, “Your path is hard for a reason, and you should not have any sense of entitlement.”
Novembre has no plans to stay in the mailroom. But he is working very hard while he is there and learning as much as he can about the organization.
His short-term goals include obtaining a management position in the organization. And his long-term goals include owning his own company. However, he does not want to be boss; he wants to be a leader.
The difference, Novembre said, is that “a boss is delegated and a leader is chosen by their peers.”
At the end of the graduation ceremony, Dana Johnson, CEO and president of ACSS, made closing remarks.
“Thank you for letting me work for you,” Johnson said. “We work as hard as we do because we believe in you.”
Past graduates of the ACSS program were recognized.
As only a witness to this graduation, and an ACSS volunteer, I was proud of these graduates who worked so hard to change their lives. Change is hard. It takes courage, determination and strength. From what I saw of Class 29, they have all of these things and so much more.
ACSS is always looking for more volunteers. You can make a difference to help change someone’s life, and volunteering makes you feel good! Please visit us online to learn more about volunteer opportunities with ACSS.