Friday 12 June was a great-big day for 10 young students of the 30th Cohort of Passport2Success. Against all the odds, including COVID-19 lockdown (which meant they could only attend the important sessions of the 16-week programme via Zoom, just like the graduation ceremony itself) they made it through to graduation.
Passport2Success is a government programme designed to bridge the gap between the skills they have at school, and the skills they need for the rest of their lives to be successful in the workplace. Group sessions are an important part of the training, and so the COVID-19 restrictions which began almost as soon as the new intake, were a serious challenge.
Graduate, Jarid Bodden welcomed everyone, and Sabria Symour led everyone in prayer: “Dear Lord thank you for bringing us safely through this pandemic. Guide our lives as we go forward to make a positive impact on this world, in Jesus Name.”
Mr. Wesley Howell, Chief Officer of Employment and Border Control, congratulated all the graduates for staying the course, despite all the uncertainties and all the difficulties posed by the lockdown: “It is such a pleasure to be here. The Premier extents best wishes and congratulations to you all,” Mr. Howell said. “I am so proud of you all, but especially of the young men. We have had some difficulties getting young men in and getting them to stick through to the graduation.”
Mr. Jeremy Scott, WORC Acting Director said: “Each of you has shown resilience and have adapted to this programme…with everything continually changing. Not even an earthquake pandemic or shelter in place was able to hold you back. Quoting from the bible, Mr. Scott said: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Graduate Jada Dixon talked about her Passport2Success journey, and how it has changed her: “The first time in the programme I was incommunicative and I always used to be offended by what people said. Now I don’t get offended at all. Thanks for always being there for me. It has made me a better person but also helped me have more confidence in myself.”
In her Reflections, Leah Forbes said: “Everyone just wanted better for themselves and their lives as young Caymanians this programme has taught me that I should never settle for anything less than success. It’s really been a jump-start towards a better you. Dazhawn Godet-McField also spoke about how the programme had changed him: “When I look in the mirror I see a different person. It taught me to be a more confident person,” he said. Delicia Brown read a poem, all about not giving up: “Don’t give up though the pace seems slow, often the goal is nearer than you know…often the struggler has given up when he might have gained the Victor’s Cup…so stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit, It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.” Mottishia Motten said: “I’ve come out of my shell and smile more thanks to this amazing group. When I got into this group they sparked something in me, and that spark has grown bigger.”