In August, the Goodwill Excel Center marks its fifth anniversary fifth anniversary providing a pathway for District residents – 376 to date – to earn their high school diplomas. The newest graduating class received their high school diplomas July 15th amid cheers and applause from family and friends.
For the first time in 18 months, we welcomed guests in person along with Excel Center staff and our Goodwill team to celebrate the 59 District residents who earned their diplomas. Nationals Park provided the perfect backdrop for the ceremony to recognize their achievement. We wanted to share a few words from the two graduate speakers – Asma Fatmi and Sheila Glenn – on reaching that milestone.
Valedictorian Asma Fatmi Talks About Living in Two Cultures and How It Shaped Her Life
Valedictorian Asma Fatmi shared about the combination of two different cultures that shaped her life. Born in Idaho while her parents were completing graduate studies, Asma grew up in a home of wealth and privilege in Morocco. Yet she felt unsure of herself and wanted to find her own identity.
The first time she traveled without her family was her solo flight to Washington, DC, in 2012 to pursue her dreams in the United States. Asma said she arrived with no English, no communication skills, no real-life experience. She worked hard over the next three years to learn the language, got married and had a daughter. But her work environment was tough. Asma said some managers bullied her due to her lack of business knowledge, education and accent. Despite the challenges, Asma said her daughter was the biggest motivation to continue her education. The support she found at the Excel Center also gave her confidence and the communication skills to rebuild her marriage.
Salutatorian Sheila Glenn Pushes Through Challenges to Earn Her Diploma
Salutatorian Sheila Glenn pushed through obstacles and adversity to overcome addiction and earn her diploma. She described being burnt out and separated from reality in her addiction. If she didn’t make a change, Sheila realized she would find herself in the same place as those around her struggling with the same challenges.
Sheila put that determination to work and in three years earned multiple industry certifications – electricity, plumbing, carpentry and HVAC technician. She then followed her dream and earned her Commercial Motor Vehicle License to drive 18-wheelers cross-country.
But earning her high school diploma was the nemesis she still had to conquer. Sheila learned about the Excel Center in treatment and knew she owed it to herself to apply.
With a lease now signed, plans are underway to open a second Excel Center campus in the historic Southwest Waterfront area that will allow the school to serve more District residents in the coming years.