InIt Students Graduate as Community Leaders
On May 3rd, 2018, thirty-two InIt youth leaders presented their Community Action Projects, heard from their fellow leaders, and graduated from the nine-month program. The event was held at City Year Boston, just a block from YW Boston.
The 2018 InIt class first came together in August 2017 at Immersion Week, where they spent a week away from Boston getting acquainted to discussing leadership and social justice. They explored how identity impacts their lives and the lives of those in their communities. During this week, they created strong relationships which helped students dig deeper into topics of equity in Boston.
Following Immersion Week, the InIt students met one Saturday a month to discuss social justice topics such as housing justice, the school to prison pipeline, and disability rights. As they learned, InIt staff and volunteers helped the students develop their voices, which was spotlighted at the student-led Social Justice Arts Slam in January. Each delegation (clustered by school) developed a Community Action Project to bring more equity to their school communities.
The 2018 graduation began with each delegation presenting their Community Action Projects. Each project was student designed and led. The projects ranged from: providing workshops in their school to bring attention to classism, hosting an equity panel with students, teachers, and a guest professor of Sociology, researching how to put together a social justice 101 course for incoming students, and more. One delegation, Salem Academy Charter School, even led the change in their school’s dress code, which now permits headscarves and leggings.
Following the presentations, Nia Evans, director of the Boston Ujima Project and former Executive Director of the Boston NAACP as well as a LeadBoston alum, spoke as the featured guest. As a racial justice leader in Boston, Nia spoke about how the skills and projects the InIt students have developed will take them far.
The class elected two of their fellow students, Gigi Jiang and Saphire Ruiz, to speak. They each spoke about how nervous they were going into Immersion Week, but that they quickly found companionship and trust among their class. Both Gigi and Saphire focused heavily on relationships, and how their classmates, delegations, and the volunteers and staff helped them grow as leaders.
After each student received their diploma, Jhaleah Delisme performed an original song, singing “We’ll leave our footprints in the sand / Struggles in the way, but our path is already paved / We’ll take this world and make a change.” Lin Pang, Senior Coordinator, Youth Leadership Partnerships, closed out the evening and spoke about how not only have staff and volunteers helped the InIt students, but each student has had a great impact on staff and volunteers, as well.
Following the ceremony, the InIt class celebrated in a group huddle and then went to cut the celebratory cake. While their time in the program has ended, they are now part of the strong and growing InIt Alumni family. Through their ongoing Community Action Projects and all of the knowledge they take with them, they will continue to bring equity to their communications for years to come.
The 2018 InIt graduating class, alongside staff, volunteers, and commencement speaker Nia Evans.
Find more photos from graduation here.