Events

AUM hosts first virtual Pathway 2 Success graduation amid pandemic

By Kerensa Crum

There were tears, speeches, a hat toss, videos and even a surprise appearance by Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat.

“I wish this was happening as it used to happen in a big, huge hall full of people and that special energy which comes when all of us are together,” said Alka Bhargav, AUM founder and executive director, at the beginning of the online commencement. “But I’m just glad everyone is safe, sound and healthy.”

Though the coronavirus has interrupted life all over the country, Bhargav urged the girls to embrace the experience for the special strength it will provide later. “I’ve seen that again and again in my life, when unforeseen circumstances happen and I dealt with them and I came out stronger at the other end.”

April Mason, General Manager of Administration of Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Alabama, offered words of encouragement through a recorded message.

“Be very proud of the challenges you have overcome, the milestones you have reached and the growth you’ve experienced,” Mason said in the video. “However, this is only the beginning of your journey. You’re about to enter probably the most exciting season of your life, a time of thinking about the future, all that lies ahead, and what you can do with it.”

She offered three pieces of advice for those anxious about college: “First, break it down into small pieces and take one thing at a time. Second, your path is your path – it isn’t anyone else’s so don’t compare it. Third, find people you can trust and go to for advice … You don’t have to do this by yourself.”

The mentees all either recorded or spoke to their mentors in real time during the ceremony to share what the experience in the program meant to them. Mentors replied in kind and many recited quotes the young ladies can take with them as they embark on the next chapter of their lives.

Mentor extraordinaire Acacia Moore – dressed as The Cat in the Hat – kicked off a reading of “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” by the program mentors. Though touted as a children’s book, the message is evergreen and applies to all ages.

“I am totally in awe and humbled by the collective smarts power and potential that each one of you has,” Bhargav said at the end of the program. “Thank you for a wonderful year and I look forward to what you all will do in the future and make us all proud.”

The mission of P2S is to empower and support under resourced female high school seniors. Upon completion of the program, which includes enrichment classes and mentoring sessions, the students receive a new laptop and scholarship sent directly to the college they will attend. To date, 75 girls have completed the program; 30 will be accepted for the 2020/2021 school year.


 

April Mason, General Manager of Administration of Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Alabama, offered words of encouragement through a recorded message.

 

 

 

 

After thanking their mentors, the mentees got creative showing how they prepared for AUM Graduation:

 

 

The mentors were creative as well when Mentor extraordinaire Acacia Moore dressed as The Cat in the Hat – kicking off a reading of “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” by the program mentors. Though touted as a children’s book, the message is evergreen and applies to all ages.

 

 

 

Then came the crowning moment – the tossing of the graduation caps!

 

 

At the end of the program, AUM Founder & Executive Director, Alka Bhargav, congratulated the students and gave them a heartfelt closing:

 

The mission of P2S is to empower and support under resourced female high school seniors. Upon completion of the program, which includes enrichment classes and mentoring sessions, the students receive a new laptop and scholarship sent directly to the college they will attend. To date, 75 girls have completed the program; 30 will be accepted for the 2020/2021 school year.