The SouthShore Chamber of Commerce has been a proud host of the migrant graduation ceremony for 16 years.
“The chamber has hosted and sponsored this event since it’s started,” said Melanie Davis, executive director of the chamber. “It included migrant graduates from Lennard, East Bay, South County Career, and this year, Sumner High School was included. This year, it was a total of 24 students.”
The event took place on May 10 of this year at Wellspring Church in Ruskin.
“This event always serves as a nice celebration of the students’ dedication and success and it applauds the efforts of their parents for making education an important part of their child’s lives,” Davis said. “These students switch schools and states numerous times every single year, which makes it difficult to keep up with schoolwork, but they don’t miss a beat and now it pays off, as they received their diplomas.”
As always with this event, the chamber’s goal is to raise enough money to cover any and all expenses for the banquet. “The banquet typically costs about $1,500,” Davis said.
The business community comes together to make sure this event happens every year. The chamber takes donations for the event itself to cover all of the specifics.
“Once we are done with that part, we put the rest of the money into a scholarship and present it to a student at the event,” Davis said. “This year, we were able to provide a wonderful dinner, beautiful flowers and framed graduation photos, gift baskets for each student, serape graduation-style sashes, medals, school supplies for college and one larger surprise, brand-new laptops. All of these items are possible through the donations of chamber members and a few individual residents in the SouthShore community.”
This year, $3,000 was given in scholarships and even after the event, the chamber was able to secure one more scholarship for one of the migrant graduates.
“It’s an event that our chamber loves taking on and is definitely committed to,” Davis said. “We applaud the efforts of each student and their families for making education a priority in their lives. When they are called to the stage to receive their medals, a brief story or bio written by the students is read out loud. The stories they have are unbelievable. The vast majority of these students will be attending college in the fall.”