Dozens of young men and recent high school graduates in South Florida are celebrating the next chapter of their lives: attending college.
The 5000 Role Models of Excellence Foundation, spearheaded by Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, honored the college-bound group of students with a virtual academic signing ceremony. The ceremony featured a lineup of speakers including presidential hopeful Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rev. Al Sharpton, Hollywood actors Larenz Tate and Omari Hardwick, and more.
“We hope that we have taught you that you can be anything, you can achieve anything despite the obstacles, setbacks, roadblocks, and racism,” said Wilson in the virtual ceremony. “You have made it.”
The signing day film was premiered on Sunday, which showed the Wilson Scholars announcing the colleges and universities they would be attending. The young honorees also received college scholarships and laptop computers.
“By making it signing day, you’ve already proven you’ve got what it takes to succeed,” Biden said in a message to the honorees. “You’re rising up and showing the world what you’re made of, but you’ve still got work ahead of you. Your path is just beginning.”
The foundation, which was initiated by the Miami-Dade County Public School Board nearly three decades ago, was created to help minority male students graduate high school and go to college after Wilson noticed them dropping out of school at an alarming rate. “I know that the education, mentorship and support that you have received at MDCPS and through the 5000 roles Models of Excellence Project has prepared you to achieve tremendous success,” Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said congratulating to the young scholars.
As with many celebrations and traditions, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the academic signing from being held in-person to being held virtually.
“I understand that you won’t have the ceremonies or the proms that you were expecting,” said Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert in a filmed message. “What you’re going through is going to make you stronger. This very moment is preparing you to be the leaders of America going forward.”