On February 8, 2013, Year Up’s Professional Training Corps in Baltimore held its Class 3 Graduation Ceremony and graduated 13 exceptional young people from the job training program. The program was held at the Radisson Hotel at Cross Keys at 100 Village Square, 5100 Falls Road in Baltimore.
Lameteria D. Hall, Site Director, for Year Up Professional Training Corps Baltimore at the Baltimore Community City College on 2901 Liberty Heights Ave, MN B, Room 231B, was again enthusiastic and pleased with the success of the program.
“By all accounts, the event was a success and a beautiful celebration of the accomplishments of our graduates, ” Hall said. Maryland’s Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler was the keynote address for the graduation ceremony.
Attorney General Gansler spoke one year after the program with Congressman Kwesi Mfume and the Attorney General was just as positive and motivational. He again was honest with the graduates. “I was a freshman at Yale University. I had been there for maybe a week, when I attended Yale University, I had a friend and he was very rich. No, I mean rich. His grandfather invented toothpaste,” the Attorney General said.
The image of what a toothpaste fortune looked like compared to the poverty that the graduates grew up around in Washington-Baltimore area gave a clear indication to the odds they had overcome. But in the same breath the Attorney General gave the students hope. “A friend told me that Jesse Jackson Sr., was coming to Yale to talk to the Yale student body. I said let’s go see him.”
Gansler and his Yale classmate went to hear the first African-American to run for the President of the United States and to create a serious bid for the office. Many people believe that Rev. Jackson opened the door and paved the way for the election of President Barack Obama in 2009.
However, Attorney General Gansler remembered the comments that Jesse Jackson made many years ago. “The one line I always remember from that was Jesse Jackson saying on the Yale campus, ‘There are a lot of Yale minds out there, but not enough Yale opportunities,’ Jackson said,” he remembered Jackson’s words.
Gansler said he thought that was pretty cool. “I was going to the best school in the world and I knew I wasn’t as deserving as everybody else because I was there because I played Lacrosse,” Gansler said.
In one honest admission the Attorney General had taken every Year Up graduate in the room from feeling that Yale was out of reach to them to identifying with the man who, as he said, held the second most powerful job in their state. His athletic scholarship to Yale was something that talented athletes receive every year from the most prestigious colleges in America.
Gansler said he dealt with his feelings by concluding that the student next to him was not that deserving either; moreover, while Gansler was at Yale on an athletic scholarship he surmised that many students were at Yale because their parents were rich.
He realized that his performance in the classroom as well on the athletic field would be the great equalizer and it was as Gansler graduated from Yale cum laude which is the third highest honor a university can bestow on a student. Summa cum laude is the highest possible honor for academic achievement.
The Attorney General said that he used his experience to let Year Up graduates know that everybody needs a door up to help them regardless of whether it is an academic scholarship or an athletic scholarship or a training and internship program like Year Up. “You can’t just take a kid out of an undeserved community and say have at it. Because it is about the opportunity for the kid who makes it work and the kid decides, I’m going to go to this school, I’m going to study to change my circumstances. I’m going to take this opportunity to make myself better,” Gansler said.
In sharing his life story with the Year Up graduates the Attorney General gave them hope for the future. He pointed out that it does not matter if a child is born into a rich family if that child chooses to make the wrong decisions in life. “Everybody has that opportunity to change the course of their professional and personal life. Everybody has their individual Year Up. It may not be a year, but everybody has that. I had mine when I was growing up. I actually got into Yale and was getting into trouble a lot,” Gansler said. With the help of his family Gansler got on the right track and made the right choices at Yale.
For more information on programs to help Maryland residents readers can contact the Attorney General’s office at (410) 462-8446 or write to Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler 200 St. Paul Place, Baltimore, Maryland 21202. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Young people interested in the Year Up program should contact Site Director Lameteria D. Hall at 410-462-8446. The address for Year Up is 2901 Liberty Heights Ave., Baltimore, Maryland 21215.
The key to any successful jobs program is based on the staff that serves the students and the support the program receives from the local community. In interviews with future and past Year Up classes the consensus has been the same: Year Up is a successful jobs program.