This post was written by the Penn Libraries Bass Teaching and Learning Fellow, Catrice Barrett
On Monday, June 16, I had the privilege of delivering the commencement address to the graduating class of Kensington International Business High School (KIBHS). The honor of speaking to such a promising group of young students is one that I owe to Matt Pilecki of the Penn Libraries, who extended the initial invitation. Jon Jacobs of Philadelphia Academies, Inc.reached out to Matt in April about potential speakers at Penn. Matt and Jon have collaborated on several outreach initiatives in the past, including a business clothing drive at Penn Law that resulted in the collection of over 1,000 articles of clothing for high school students entering the workforce or pursuing higher education.
KIBHS serves students from Latino and African American backgrounds, many of whom face tremendous challenges in the pursuit of an education. These are challenges that I certainly understand as a Black first-generation college student. Building on the commitment to community outreach established by Ancil George and Penn Libraries’ Group on Library Diversity (GOLD), I decided to use this opportunity to share the tests and trials I faced during my own educational journey. My goal was to inspire hope in the graduates, to let them know that despite their challenges, if they press on, a testimony awaits them on the other side of victory. The graduates, parents and staff received the message with warmth and gratitude, a gift that I will cherish always.
Penn Libraries and the GOLD group proudly salute the graduating class of 2015. May your future be bright and prosperous!