Melissa graduated from a program called Gateway to College. They didn't have a formal Valedictorian, but if they had, I'm pretty sure she was it.. (I think she was kind of relieved not to have to give a speech). She was accepted into West Chester University as a junior, with a major in pre med.
Her road was and is tough. You would never know by looking at this beautiful girl, what kind of struggle it was for her to get where she is. But if she is not a hard worker, you can paint me red and call me Shirley. The work for her was on every front imaginable. From within and from without. We certainly did what we could, and prayed, prayed, prayed! Her patron Saint is Padre Pio. I can't think of a better one. She has his strength of spirit! More than once, he was called upon for help. and help he did.
So if we are proud of her, than so be it. She is going to be a force in the world wherever she goes and whatever she does.
Rachael graduated from Girard Academic Music Program, (GAMP). It is exactly what it sounds like. A school with rigorous academics that has music as its core. Not all or even many, go on to have music as their career, but the foundation is there, and proves what has been said, that music enhances overall learning. At the graduation ceremony, we were informed that over 3 million dollars in scholarships were offered to the sixty students that make up the class of 2011. That's a staggering number, and that's how sought after these kids are by the time they finish up at GAMP.
Rachael is an excellent student, She had different challenges than her sister, and had to do battle to maintain her footing over the years. Struggles within our family and within herself added to the already high demands of school, which she met with as much aplomb as any girl her age could muster. All the while she offered her help and support to the family. I think this experience helped mold her into the lovely, mature, talented, sweet young woman she is today. Adversity may be a hard school, but it readies us for the tests of life.
Rachael is going to attend Moore College of Art and Design, for which she received about eighteen thousand dollars a year in scholarships. She plans to major in illustration. This year, she was asked to do several large paintings that will hang at GAMP, which she did. I saw the largest one in process, but was away when she finished it and took it in, so I don't yet have a photo.
It is a sports themed painting, for the gym. Not usually her choice of theme, but it is excellent, nonetheless.
Here is a little sample of her work, from her college portfolio.
The beautiful Rachael.
We went out to the local diner to celebrate. There were lots of other GAMP grads there as well :) It's the place to go in South Philly. Two more on the road to adulthood! Adam, pictured here to the left of Bob, (yes, your left), Melissa's fiance, will also be graduating this week from the Police Academy. We are proud of him, and know he is going to serve us all very well as a police officer.
Ben and Malaika are next. Ben will be a junior, also at GAMP, and Malaika begins sixth grade in the fall at Saint Monica School. Ben is a very good student and accomplished drummer. Malaika is thinking she may want to be a veterinarian.
We know we will never be "done" being parents. But it is exciting to see them all growing up and moving into the world to make their marks. We will be wearing out our knees as they do this!