The Class of 2022 celebrated graduation from the American School for the Deaf in West Hartford on June 13, 2022.
The American School for the Deaf (ASD) held its 205th Commencement ceremony on Monday June 13, 2022. On this warm spring evening, 23 graduates, along with families, friends, teachers, and staff, gathered under a tent outside ASD’s main entrance to celebrate the achievements of the Class of 2022.
“This is the first graduating class in the modern era to have spent most of your high school years during a global pandemic,” said ASD Board Chair Jonathan Rubin in his opening remarks. “Yet you have continued to find ways to learn, accomplish great things, build friendships, participate in campus activities, and grow as individuals.”
Rubin advised graduates to follow their passions, give back to their communities, and lead lives of “peace and kindness.” Executive Director Jeffrey S. Bravin then addressed the students, urging them to thank all those who helped them along their journey and to remember: “You are prepared with the tools you need to succeed. You must now believe in yourselves.”
Two keynote speakers followed Rubin and Bravin: graduating senior Muhammad Babar Rahu ’22 and ASD Alumni Association President Sandra McLennon ’74. Community and communication were focal points of the evening.
Rahu relayed his experiences as a young boy in Pakistan who struggled to learn Urdu and to communicate. He did not attend his first school in Pakistan until he was 10 years old, and was surprised and thrilled when he was given the opportunity to travel to the United States to study at the American School for the Deaf. He described arriving at ASD as a 14-year-old overwhelmed at the thought of learning two new languages, ASL and English, but he persevered and found his place.
“When you find what you are interested in learning, you will soar,” he told his classmates. “It is important to set your goals, make a plan and stay focused. You can do it if you work hard and don’t give up!”
After Rahu spoke, Alumni Association President Sandra McLennon took the stage to share words of wisdom with the seniors. McLennon spoke about arriving at ASD as a 7-year-old with no language and the frustration born from not being able to communicate. She faced many challenges, she said, but “language was the key to opening up my world and setting me on the right path.”
McLennon credited ASD with giving her access to language and opening the door to communication and community. She encouraged the seniors: “Don’t give up just because something is challenging. It may not work out as you envisioned, but you can be proud to do your best. That’s how you got here to graduation today!”
Students’ smiles lit up the stage as they crossed it to receive their diplomas. From the audience, parents and family members, teachers and staff beamed with pride as these students became graduates.
Plans for the future include college or vocational school for some students, and entry into the workforce or independent living for others. This ending marks the beginning of a new chapter for ASD’s graduating Class of 2022. As they move forward, Executive Director Jeffrey Bravin reminds them to stay in touch and to remember that they will always be “ALL Ways Able.”
The Class of 2022 includes: Dennis Marquis Atkinson, Jr (New Haven, CT), Frederick Bohlen, Jr. (Hartford, CT), Jey Alexander Cruz Cotto (New Britain, CT), Joanys Michelle Garcia (Middletown, CT), Mekhi Antione Garcia-McKenzie (Brooklyn, NY), Muhammad Usman Ghani (Karachi, Pakistan), Dyman Fernando Guerrero (Far Rockaway, NY), Brian William Kanya (Whethersfield, CT), Jenna Kinney (Milford, NH), Vianca Peralta Mosquea (Hartford, CT), Erika Maria Polanco (Hartford, CT), Marvin Rosales Provitt (Bronx, NY), Muhammad Babar Rahu (Shahmir, Pakistan), Ke’Andre Rattigan (Middletown, CT), Ethan Owen Robinson (Bristol, CT), Tearah Janet Rogers (Hartford, CT), Luke Romblad (Madison, CT), Matthew Lawrence Roth (New Haven, CT), Ezequiel Saavedra (Brooklyn, NY), Andrew T-Pederson (Glastonbury, CT), Jack Dylan Rendsland Tonello (West Hartford, CT), Cameron Shane Tubbs (Winsted, CT), Ricardo Wiltshire, Jr. (Yonkers, NY)
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