Graduation Day

Delivering their speeches, the class of 2022 shined particularly bright at this year’s graduation. 

Elira,* the class president from Albania, talked about “The breakfast club,” when her math teacher would open the classroom early and chat with the students over school muffins and yogurt. 

Adam from Yemen joked about meeting “my first bald teacher,” who was demanding yet caring in pushing his students to write. 

Christina, our valedictorian from Dominican Republic, reflected on the challenges of Calculus. 

Oumou from Senegal was still glowing over getting a piece published in the New York Times, a Modern Love Story, “Sprinting in Senior Spring.” 

On the day of our graduation, the Supreme Court was overturning Roe vs. Wade.

A majority of our students are from the Dominican Republic and Yemen. Within a day, several states now had abortion laws stricter than Yemen and as strict as the Dominican Republic. Our students were graduates in the state of New York, yet they were now living in a vastly different country than the one they had entered, one that no longer guaranteed the rights of women in every state. 

Of course, none of us knew this was happening. We were celebrating, not just graduation but a new sense of togetherness, a turning point in the pandemic. We were celebrating things as big as our students’ journeys to the United States, and as small as the feeling of the summer air on our faces without masks. 

*The names of students have been changed in this piece except for Oumou, whose name was also published in her Times piece.

Photo credit: DLE event group

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