Congratulations Class of 2024!

Youville Class of 2024 on the Stairs
Class of 2024 ready to enter Kinsella Hall for the Graduation Ceremony

In the Spirit of Truth and Reconciliation, Youville Centre would like to acknowledge that the land on which we inspire, educate and nurture, is the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg People. On this land, on June 20, 2024, Youville Centre hosted our 36th graduation ceremony, along with M.F. McHugh Education Centre and St. Nicholas Adult High School. 

This year we welcomed St Nicholas Adult High School Guidance Teacher, Heather Marshall, as our Master of Ceremonies. As a former St. Nicholas Adult HS staff member at Youville Centre until June 2023, Heather has a special connection to Youville and this year’s graduating class.

MC Heather
MC Heather Marshall, Teacher, St Nicholas Adult High School

Dignitary Greetings

Heather introduced our many dignitaries, with a combination of quoted messages and in person inspiring messages of congratulations;

  • Honourable Mona Fortier, Member of Provincial Parliament for Ottawa-Vanier; sent a congratulatory message that was shared with the guests;
  • Lucille Collard, Member of Provincial Parliament for Ottawa-Vanier; spoke in person;
  • Councilor Stéphanie Plante, Ward 12 – Rideau/Vanier; spoke in person;
  • Cindy Simpson, OCSB Trustee, Youville Angel and former Executive Director of Youville Centre; spoke on behalf of our Education Partner, the Ottawa Catholic School Board; 
  • Pino Buffone, OCDSB Director of Education; spoke on behalf of the Ottawa Carleton District School Board; and
  • Lee Redpath, Board President, spoke on behalf of the Youville Centre volunteer Board of Directors
Collage of headshots of guest speakers
Guest Speakers, from Left to Right; MPP Lucille Collard, Councilor Stéphanie Plante, OCSB Trustee Cindy Simpson, OCDSB Director Pino Buffone and Youville Board President Lee Redpath

Lee concluded with these words;

Being a mother is a demanding and life-changing role, and balancing that with your studies has required sheer determination.  You have defied the odds – you have navigated the complexities of motherhood while pursuing your education.  You have clearly demonstrated your capacity for greatness!

Don’t ever forget what you have achieved – it bodes well for your future.   We on the Board, wish you nothing but success for your future.  Know that your graduation today is not an end, but rather a beginning.  The start of a future that you have carved out for yourself – go forth, seize the opportunities that life offers, hold your children close at night and remember, you’ve got this!

A message from Executive Director Peter Embleton followed. Peter said  “While your time at Youville is coming to an end, you’re at the beginning of something else. What that something else is, can only be decided by you, your future is now beginning. As you go your separate ways, we ask for only this; That you will remember that you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. Keep challenging yourself to think better, do better and be better.  Be that someone who makes someone else look forward to tomorrow. Peter ended with a wish for our graduating class: To the Youville Class of 2024; I want to wish you a life filled with joy, health and success.

Each year, a principal from one of our Education Partners shares a few words for our graduating class.

This year, Margarita Ziroldo, Principal of M.F. McHugh Education Centre shared a few words of congratulations, saying “As our graduates embark on the next chapter of their lives, I want to assure them that the difficulties they have faced have only made them stronger and more resilient. As young mothers, they have developed valuable skills such as time management, adaptability, multitasking, and problem-solving, which will serve them well in their future endeavours.”

Principal Margarita speaking to grad class of 2024
M.F. McHugh Education Centre Principal Margarita Ziroldo speaking to graduating Class of 2024

Alumnae Speaker

As part of our ceremony annually, we have an alumna of Youville Centre come back to speak to our graduates about their journey, and to share words of wisdom for the days and years ahead. This year, our speaker was Christiana who graduated from Youville Centre in 2007. Christiana shared a special message to our graduating class.  Some excerpts are included below, and her full speech will be in our Annual Report when it is released in September 2024.

Christiana began with “I am here today as a proud graduate of the Youville Centre. This year has brought back so many great memories of what the Youville Centre does for young women and their babies. Graduates, you need to be so very proud of yourselves because sitting in these seats today was no easy task. I know that I didn’t realize what I truly accomplished until I had my youngest son and thought to myself, how did I manage to finish high school with a baby?”  

Christiana concluded speaking with “Today is the beginning of a new chapter in your life. Life and time are so very precious so please follow your dreams and build that future that you and your children deserve. It has been an honour being here today to watch all of you graduate and to share my journey. I wish you all the best wherever life takes you!  Thank you!

Alumnae Speaker: Young woman speaking at graduation
Class of 2006 Alumnae Guest Speaker Christiana addressing the graduating class of 2024
Christiana pictured with her two sons

Graduates Cross the Stage

At this time, the 13 graduates present (out of 15 total this year) walked across the stage, one by one, to receive their diploma.

Their teachers prepared personal anecdotes to share, including touching stories and moments to highlight the resilience and dedication our clients have displayed to obtain their high school diplomas. It was so encouraging to hear about each young mother’s future plans. 

After each graduate crossed the stage, their bursary awards were announced. Graduates were photographed with any bursary donors present or with Directors from the Centre’s Board who were onsite for the ceremony.

Photo of medals on a table

M.F. McHugh Education Centre Principal's Award

2024 McHugh Principal's Award
M.F. McHugh Principal Margarita Ziroldo pictured presenting the Principal's Award to Zoe

Zoe was the proud recipient of the M.F. McHugh Education Centre Principal’s Award.

The Principal’s Award is given to a student who has exemplified academic persistence, and a dedication to their own learning. Each and every day, Zoe demonstrated the M.F. McHugh standards of growth mindset, pathway building, and project-based learning. She has successfully demonstrated how working hard and advocating for herself can lead to accomplishing her goals.

Congratulations, Zoe!

Spirit of Youville Award - Valerie

Our 2024 Spirit of Youville student was chosen because she embodies the Youville “voice”. Over her time at Youville, Val has demonstrated personal growth, leadership skills and academic perseverance while developing her parenting skills along the way. These were her parting words to her peers: 

To my fellow graduates, we did it! I am so proud of us and all that we have accomplished. I am forever grateful for the connections I have made with you as my classmates. We have strived to do our best for our children and at the same time make something of ourselves. We have supported each other on our journeys, through ups and downs, encouraging each other through it all. I will forever be proud of you beautiful girls for pushing through and making it. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to come up here and speak about how much Youville has done for us and the way it has influenced our journey. I speak from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of all grads when we truly thank Youville for everything, and for seeing us as strong, resilient leaders. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to better our futures for our children and supporting our children through the first steps of their lives. We will miss Youville very much. Thank you.

Sprit of Youville 2024 Recipient with ED Peter Embleton and Teacher Susan G.
2024 Spirit of Youville Val pictured with Executive Director Peter Embleton (left) and Teacher Susan Gonsalves (right)

Alumnae and Second Generation Bursary Awards

Next, Alumnae and Second Generation Bursary Award recipients were presented. We were pleased to be able to award some of our recipients in person at the ceremony this year. More information about Alumnae and Second Generation Bursaries, and our 2024 recipients, including photos, can be found on our Alumnae Bursary website page here:

Thank you, to every one of our bursary donors, and special thanks to those who have continued to provide bursaries for our graduates for multiple years. These donated bursaries make a huge impact on two generations, as our graduates pursue their post-secondary education and create a better life for themselves and their children. 

Photo of Youville's Class of 2024 Throwing Grad Caps by outdoor sign

Thank You's

We are grateful to our photographer, Tia McPherson (who is also a Youville Centre Alumna from the Class of ‘97!) for donating her professional skills to capture the special moments you see pictured from our graduation! Big thanks as well to Versailles Academy of Make-Up Arts, Esthetics and Hair, for the group of students who donated their time and skills as hairstylists for our graduates this year.

Many thanks to our dedicated staff in the Child Development Program, Intensive Treatment Support Program, Support Staff and Teachers for supporting our clients through their journeys and for the extensive planning and effort involved in making this day a great success!

Cupcakes at 2024 Graduation
Delicious cupcakes ordered from Thimble Cakes for the reception following the ceremony
Flowers loaned by Skeggs
One of four flower arrangements loaned to us by Skeggs Landscaping, our grounds maintenance company
2024 Stage at Grad
Kinsella Hall all ready to go for Graduation 2024; thank you to the Ottawa Catholic School Board for the annual use of the stage kit
Grad Gowns ready to go
Graduation Gowns (steamed by volunteer Youville Angel Zybina) and all ready to go
Front Cover of Grad 2024 Program
Back Page for Grad 2024 Program - Thank You's