Congratulations 2015 Graduates!

We cannot believe another year has passed already! We have enjoyed watching our graduates grow as young mothers to their children, and achieve academic and personal goals. We are so proud of each and every one of our graduates, and we wish them well as they move on to their next phase of life, whether that includes post-secondary education or entering the world of work.  This year’s graduation ceremony was held on Friday, June 19th, and together with our education partner M.F. McHugh Education Centre we congratulated 13 young mothers as they received their Ontario Secondary School Diplomas. Family, friends, bursary donors, community partners, and special friends of Youville Centre were in attendance for the ceremony.

Please enjoy this gallery of photos from this special day (click on photos to enlarge):

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We started the day with a special brunch prepared by our in-house cooks, Kathy and Deb, and while they enjoyed the brunch, the graduates took some time to prepare for this very special occasion.

Many thanks to the following people and organizations who helped our students look and feel their best on graduation day:

  • Versailles Academy, who has been helping Youville grads for 20 years by providing hair styling services
  • Youville supporter Zybina and friends, who generously provided brand new makeup and hair products for our graduates
  • Youville volunteer Sandy, who lent us her talents in esthetics, providing manicures for the graduates
  • Youville volunteers Raymonde and Ria for helping with brunch and making sure dresses and gowns were steamed to perfection

The graduates then proceeded to the second floor to don their caps and gowns, take photos and enjoy some quality time with front-line staff:

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During the ceremony, graduates took their seats on the stage, and they stood when their name was called, as their teachers acknowledged aloud their personal, academic, and parenting-related accomplishments. Then, each graduate received her Ontario Secondary School Diploma and a photo of herself and her child was shown on the screen for guests to see.

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After the valedictory address, bursaries are generously awarded to each graduate for their post-secondary education plans. We are also fortunate enough to have community support in the form of alumnae bursaries, and second generation bursaries, which go to the children of Youville Centre’s former graduates. Seen below are, (L to R):

  • One of our former Youville “babies”, Stephanie Kootoo-Chiarello, accepting a Second Generation Bursary from longtime Youville Centre supporters Dr. Owen and Mrs. Pat Kealey. Stephanie is now completing her H.B.A. at Carleton University studying Human Rights and Indigenous Studies.
  • Youville graduate Danielle, who received a bursary from Marsha Wilson, Executive Director of St. Joe’s Women’s Centre. Youville has a wonderful partnership with St. Joe’s and a few of our graduates have gone on to work for Marsha and her team.
  • Youville graduate Genevieve, who received the M.F. McHugh Award for highest academic performance and achievement, and best all-around student. Gen is seen here with Angela Lariviere, a member of Youville Centre’s Board of Directors.

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After the ceremony, the graduates were then led by the piper out to the lawn for a new tradition that we just started in recent years – the tossing of the caps! Special thanks to volunteer piper Joan Taillefer for your contribution to our graduation ceremony each year.

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A lovely reception brought graduation day to a close, where guests enjoyed snacks and treats from our in-house cooks as well as some delicious, nut-free mini-cupcakes from ThimbleCakes. Corsages and flowers for the ceremony and special guests were provided by Langdon’s Flowers, and outdoor planters were loaned to us for this special day by Skeggs Landscaping and Design.

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We often take the opportunity at graduation to recognize some very special individuals who have contributed greatly to the centre through their unwavering support, hard work, and advocacy for our mission. This year we were proud to recognize our School Resource Officer (SRO) Constable Monique Paquette (middle photo, seen here with Youville Centre student Kim). Constable Paquette was Youville Centre’s SRO for 3.5 years and she continues to help Youville in various other ways. We were also pleased to present our Youville Angel Awards to retiring Principal of M.F. McHugh Education Centre, Jonathan Crosier, who has worked in partnership with Youville Centre for 15 years; and weekly Youville Centre volunteer Dr. Sarah Oliver, who provides medical services to our young moms and their children.

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Many thanks goes out to everyone who helped to make this year’s graduation ceremony such a success, including the businesses and organizations mentioned above, all bursary donors, volunteer musicians Heather Flinn and Bill Lewis, Lifetouch Canada, Fairy Godmother, and The Ottawa Catholic School Board.

Please stay tuned to the blog as we will be sharing a special video from our graduation this year, thanks to our work in partnership with United Way Ottawa.


Photos by Youville Centre and Lifetouch Canada (Ottawa).