Antwan Griffin was a high school dropout who eventually realized that he wanted to develop his potential. Griffin joined the Greater Miami Service Corps and helped with the construction of classrooms of the The School of Integrated Academics and Technology (SIATech).
Griffin and 13 other high school dropouts from the Corps received their diplomas during commencement exercises held on Jan. 21 at the Doubletree Hotel in Miami.
He was class Valedictorian.
“I decided I was tired of doing nothing and I know I was capable of doing better,” Griffin, 21, said in his commencement speech.
His message to others: “Never give up; always keep trying, because hard work pays off.”
The others were James Berry, Henry Brown, Theodore Brown, Victoria Brown, Linda Dominguez, Isaac Everett, Zedrick Gardner, Michelle Gilyard, Leroy Hunt, Sha’Nise Johnson, Danielle Morgan, Ushika Williams and Marquis Youngs.
The 14 graduates were among a larger group of 105 drawn from the Greater Miami Service Corps, the Miami Gardens Job Corps and the Homestead Job Corps.
Tracy Mourning, staunch youth advocate and wife of retired Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning delivered the commencement address.
The program began in 2009, when the Miami-Dade Community Action Agency, the Greater Miami Service Corps and SIATech formed a partnership to help prepare youth who have dropped out of school to become self-sufficient.
This program combines occupational training and work experience as a means of bringing the youth back into the education system. The objective is to break the cycle of poverty and under-achievement for youth who have dropped out of the public school system.
The classrooms are equipped with high-end Internet accessible work stations that simulate a modern office environment, rather than a traditional classroom, to provide a more interactive experience for the students.
For more information on the Miami-Dade Community Action Agency, call 786-469-4600 or visit www.miamidade.gov/caa. For more information on the Greater Miami Service Corps, call 305-638-4672 or visit www.gmscmiami.com.