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'We Have Made It'

Prince Tech Graduates Urged To Keep Chasing Their Dreams

June 21, 2005
By ASHLEY L. BATTLE, Courant Staff Writer

As Melanie Oliver accepted her diploma Monday night from A.I. Prince Vocational-Technical School, she turned to the crowd and looked toward her family.

Sitting in the audience was her mother, Merry, several sisters and her 15-month-old daughter, Narianna.

Oliver, of Enfield, who studied hairdressing while at Prince Tech in Hartford, exhales loudly with the weary voice of a professional when asked to describe her daily schedule. It's a busy one of constant movement - dropping off Narianna at her father's house in Hartford, going to school, going to work at Six Flags, then hurrying home to get Narianna ready for bed.

"She's a great mother," Merry said. "If she's not with her daughter, she's at school or she's at work."

"She got the `best attitude' award," her sister, Lisi Robles, 19, said, smiling proudly.

Oliver's initial plans were to work in a salon, but they have changed significantly: She wants to go to college and become an obstetrician-gynecologist.

"I'd like to go to school in New York somewhere," she said.

Oliver was one of more than 120 students to graduate from Prince Tech in a ceremony at Central Connecticut State University's Welte Auditorium. More than 500 people watched the students accept their diplomas.

With the young women wearing white and the young men wearing purple, the Class of 2005 entered and was soon addressed by Principal William Chaffin.

"Do not wish your life away," he urged the graduates.

Class president Natasha Gonzalez expressed her pride in being able to address her fellow graduates. "I'm not good with speeches, so I wrote you a goodbye letter," she said.

Valedictorian Olivia Lewinson commended her classmates, telling them, "Think of freshman year. Now look around you. We are the only ones left. We have made it."

The class cheered when Assistant Principal Henry Weiner took the lectern to introduce the commencement speakers.

"If you take the ball and run, you have a head start. These people are living proof that the system works," he said before introducing the commencement speakers.

The speakers were Prince Tech alumni Daniel Nelson, Mark McCalop and Annabel Diaz, from the classes of 1994, 1996 and 1997, respectively. All three speakers congratulated the Class of 2005 and urged them to keep working toward their dreams.

When graduate Shanika Wallace stepped up to the microphone to sing the song "I Believe" before the diplomas were awarded, she was overcome with emotion.

It was then that her classmates, who had been swaying to the beat of the song, leapt to their feet, clapping and cheering her on.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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