Excelsior’s Impact Comes Full Circle for a Special Graduation Celebration

Yesterday marked the end of a chapter and opened the door to infinite possibilities for one young lady at Excelsior. Well-known and beloved across campus, Theresa (known as T.T. to most), graduated high school!

After reminiscing about the shenanigans T.T. often pulled on campus, her Peer Support Specialist, Josie, gave a heartfelt and emotional speech congratulating T.T. I’m going to share Josie’s beautiful speech, but first want to share a little something about Josie to give you an idea of how powerful this speech, and this graduation truly were for everyone at Excelsior.

Josie is not only a Peer Support Specialist at Excelsior with a gift for bringing out the best in people, but she has a special connection to Excelsior – she used to be an Excelsior kid. After working tirelessly to overcome impossible challenges and find her path to success, Josie has come full circle and found her purpose in helping others do the same. This connection and relatability makes Josie incredibly good at her job. The kids love and respect her, and every day she helps them see things more clearly and be their best selves. But the most amazing thing about it is that the kids are not the only ones learning;  Josie knows these kids are teaching her more than she could have ever imagined.


T.T.’s Graduation Speech by Josie, Peer Support Specialist and Excelsior Alum

“As you start your journey, the first thing you should do is throw away
that store-bought map and begin to draw your own.” – Michael Dell

The day is here that we get to witness Theresa turn the page on an enduring, difficult, and beautiful chapter in her life, and more importantly, start a new chapter in her transition to adulthood. Most of you may not know this, but Theresa was my very first assigned client when I was hired here by Excelsior. I’ll never forget the day we had our first session, Theresa tried very hard to pretend to be shy, and that lasted for about 5 minutes and 45 seconds.

Through out time working together, Theresa has taught me many things. One being that busting out into song and interpretive dance in the checkout line at Walgreens is exactly what I need on a bad day. Two, that there is no such thing as too much frosting consumed in a 24-hour period. And three, that dipping french fries in a chocolate frosty is a very valid method of french fry consumption.

Aside from those things, Theresa has also given me many gifts:

  • The gift of creativity – exploring places in our minds and hearts that we did not know were there, allowing ourselves to think outside of the box, and coloring outside of our societal lines.
  • The gift of the “silver lining” – always finding the positive, seeing the light in a dark space, and embracing it fully.
  • The gift of acceptance – accepting ourselves for who we are, despite what we have been through, what we look like, and where we come from.

Theresa, you have taught me so much, and have helped me have a beautiful perspective in my life today and learn the true definition of self-love. For that I am forever grateful.

My wish for you is to continue your growth into the amazing young woman you are, to never give up on your dreams that you have set for yourself, and to love yourself always, no matter what this life throws your way. You have worked so hard for this moment; this graduation was brought on by the blood, sweat and tears given by you and your will to succeed.graduation-hat-in-air

There are so many opportunities for you to choose from in this life, all you have to do is close your eyes, pick a direction, and start your journey. Trust the process today, Theresa; if you will allow it, the world is yours.