Monday, June 8, 2015

College Celebration Party

Saturday, June 6th, will forever be one of the happiest days of my life. In the spirit of the girls graduating high school and my leaving, I hosted a College Celebration for them. I refuse to acknowledge the party as a celebration of their high school graduation because for them, graduating high school, is not an accomplishment. I am proud of the skills they have developed and the opportunities they have earned based on their resilience in high school, but I will truly celebrate in four years when each of them graduates from their perspective college with their four year degree. 

As I am sure each of them will have other priorities on the day of their graduation aside from all getting together for one last group hug with me, I recognized this event as my last opportunity to be with all six of them together. I invited my friends and people who had contributed their finances and time to us these past two years. They invited their friends, family members, teachers, and anyone else they could think of. It really was the perfect day. 

I hosted the event at Nolen Kitchen, primarily because it's my favorite lunch spot in Charlotte, but also because I adore their patio that we used for the space. I shared my favorite pictures and moments from the day below.

I created this invite using Paperless Post. Since I was not celebrating their high school graduation, I did not want the color scheme to reflect their high school. I also thought incorporating all six of their future school colors into one them may not be too complimentary. Therefore, I decided on a gold, cream, white color scheme and somehow, pink worked its way in there! 

My love for these six girls runs incredibly deeply. They are the little sisters I never had and I am happy they will become my lifelong friends. 

My heart overflows with love for Destany. While it took a while for this love to grow,  I am consistently impressed by the young woman she has grown up to me. From starting her own organization to her initiative and drive. As she will be attending George Mason University in the fall, I would expect to see Destany as the next Olivia Pope. 

To define my relationship with Paloma, during the event, when there was a line for the food, I ventured to her plate and took a bite out of one of her chicken fingers. She gave me a stare and then realized that in the true battle of princesses, I win. Paloma has taught me to be a better person and has shifted my perspective (for good) on so many things. While her journey to Elon University is still in process, we are both willing to do whatever we can to make it happen. 

Shawna has a heart for helping others that is captivating from the moment I met her. The resilience in this girl is one of a kind. Given any hurdle, she was willing to struggle, until she reached the top. It is this resiliency that will enable her to be successful at Spelman and beyond. One of my favorite moments from the day was during Shawna's speech, when she shared that I deleted her first two essays, entirely. Yes, I did, and that third essay, was phenomenal, and that is the resilience and determination that will always enable Shawna to continue forward. 

They probably won't love me for this one, but I adore this picture of Shawna and her friends. I knew all of the girls two years ago when I was in the classroom and I am grateful for each of their smiling faces. 

My friend Emily made these beautiful boards with each of their girls' schools written in her gold calligraphy. Throughout the event, all of the guests were encouraged to write a message for each of the girls on their boards (in pink!) for the girls to have as a keepsake with them at college and to serve as a constant reminder of all of those who are already invested and believe in their success. 

Recently, Ana had the opportunity to decide between Brown University and Morehead Cain Scholar at UNC Chapel Hill. While I pushed for her to attend Brown, thinking more futuristically in terms of opportunities and challenges, she decided on UNC Chapel Hill as a Morehead Cain Scholar which is still pretty impressive. While I gave her a hard time about not taking my advice (truly, both decisions were good decisions) I am secretly proud of how fiercely independent she is. Despite all of the persuasion from many to attend Brown, she made the decision that she wanted to, and for that, I admire her. 

She may not love me for posting these two pictures, but I absolutely adore them as they capture Nichea so incredibly well. Nichea is autonomous and always a few steps ahead of you in regards to schedule. When I would meet with her for our regular meetings, she was always the most prepared student with all of her checklist items already completed. She has dreams and aspirations that I so deeply admire. She will be attending North Carolina State University in the fall where she plans to obtain her Bachelors and Masters degrees to share financial knowledge with those of her community. 

Zadriuna, I am sad this was the only picture I had to share but there are a few below in the group shots that truly capture you. Zadri and I decided while I was her teacher that we would become best friends, while I am sure this was a secret ploy on her behalf to sweeten me into her likings for good grades, she earned those on her own. I can always count on Zadri to do exactly what I told her not to do (in a good way, we share the same quality of defiance) and it's something that I deeply admire in her. While I am not proud of the fact that I may have passed on a few of my shopping habits to this fashionista, I am proud, come the fall, she will be attending Howard University. 

Hey Sugar Shop made these gorgeous custom, sparkly, perfection of cookies! Fortunately for us, they taste as incredible as they look. I've worked with MK for events before, and she is truly wonderful. (As a side, she is opening a location in Rock Hill this summer. I will certainly be visiting on my first trip back to Charlotte.) 

While I did not work with Ayanna the past two years, we have spent quite a bit of time these past few months collaborating as she makes her college decisions. I may have even slightly over-prepared her for a scholarship interview. While I deeply regret not including her in the original group and I truly wish I could have taken on all of my former students, I am so thankful for her presence in my life. If there was ever one to be living by the hashtag #makeithappen, it is this girl. I'm excited for her to attend UNC Pembrooke next year at very little cost to her family and herself! 

One of my sweeter moments. I truly love this girl. 

The girls surprised me with a gift! 

I thought about it obsessively until I stumbled upon the most perfect gifts for the girls. I've written about Shop Compliment on the blog before and was really excited for the opportunity to collaborate with Melissa on these custom pieces. The shop's motto is "we rise my lifting others" and a portion of sales goes towards a scholarship fund for young women. Truly, a match made in social media heaven. I had her make a necklace for each girl with their school colors. In my family, we always gift jewelry for the big moments (birthdays, graduations) and so it was especially meaningful for me to gift each girl with hopefully a timeless piece for themselves. I LOVED the excitement. 

The best day. Thank for all who attended and for everyone who has supported us these past few years.  I certainly could not have done it alone. I am immensely grateful for all who believed in me and the future of these six girls. I promise, they will be changing the world, in no time. 



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