Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Words inspire at Just for Girls graduation

Talk about empowering.

When you have a roomful of middle-schoolers about to walk across the stage in front of family and friends, it's tough to grab their attention. But that's just what keynote speaker Digna Alvarez managed to accomplish at this year's Just for Girls graduation ceremony.

Alvarez, regional director for U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, talked directly to "all these beautiful girls" as she reminded all of us that our friends make us whole. She recalled her mom's Cuban saying, then gave us the rough translation:

"Tell me who you hang out with, and I'll tell you who you are."

The girls looked at each other, and knew exactly what Alvarez meant. And when she wrapped up her challenges for them to stay on a better path, the girls applauded -- and shouted out in unison,

"Thank you!"

The Just for Girls' graduating class of 2011 will be friends for life, if the tears and hugs shared yesterday are any indication. As Herald columnist Vin Mannix wrote in his story today, they have already been through so much -- gangs, scarring fights, juvenile detention.

But the graduation was all about the good stuff, and hopes for a brighter future. Share a few of those moments captured in Grant Jefferies' photo gallery .

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