Heartfelt Thanks from Graduates at the Marana Facility
Thirty-one residents of Arizona State Prison-Marana recently participated in a graduation ceremony. The men were recognized for completing their GEDs and achieving National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) certification.
Valedictorian Austin Brunette spoke at the event.
“If you’re like me, you’ve screwed up many things in your life,” he told the group. “But all of that is a prologue to this moment. Those experiences give us wisdom, humility, and a deep sense of the one emotion that many people try so hard to avoid: failure. But those of us that have failed understand that it is a necessary step in achieving success.
“My graduating peers and I are resilient. Resilience is the virtue that enables people to move through hardship and become better. Resilience is an important trait to have in order to live a fulfilling life. A resilient individual is more prepared to take on challenges, as well as develop their talents, skills, and abilities so that they can live with more purpose and joy.”
“I am proud of everybody that is graduating with me now. We all put forth the effort and have made a substantial accomplishment that will continue to benefit us in many different applications throughout the rest of our lives.”
Ross Likes was the spokesman for the NCCER graduates. He also spoke at the graduation.
“You know, 20 years ago if you told me I would be doing schoolwork when I was 33, I would have laughed at you,” he began. “But here I am graduating a college-level program. It feels good, and I am proud to be here with all of my fellow classmates graduating this NCCER program together. It’s more than just a graduation, though. It is success beyond that. Circumstances of our daily lives do not make success an easy task to achieve. Prison affects our self-confidence and sometimes our will to succeed.”
“We have an amazing instructor which, through his dedication, turned this class into a family pushed us to be our best. So, to all of the graduates today, congratulations. We have proven we can succeed. Stay focused, it’s only up from here. And to the best instructor I have ever had the privilege of learning from, I would like to thank you, Mr. Torres. Without your dedication to this class, none of this would be possible.”