Eight teenagers graduated Friday from the National Workplace Development Agency’s latest “Passport2Success” class.

The teens are all Year 12 graduates of the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre (CIFEC). It was the first time the program had focused on CIFEC students.

The teens were involved in a range of activities over 12 weeks, including classroom sessions and work experience, as well as volunteer work with the Cayman AIDS Foundation and Meals on Wheels.

Addressing the gathering, Premier Alden McLaughlin told the students, “You have each demonstrated a willingness to succeed.”

The ceremony marked the 23rd graduation from the public-private initiative which organizers say aims to “maximize the education, training and employment potential of local youths.”

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Each participant worked with a local business in their areas of interest.

“I didn’t fool around at all,” said Abiann Gayle, who was awarded for her outstanding performance. “The NWDA and Passport2Success staff helped me to calm down and focus on my work and also on the tests.”

Sponsor Kenrick Webster congratulates Tyrek, the only male graduate.

The other students graduating from the program were: Lauroya Ebanks, Marygrace Hibbert, Tresaun Jacques, Amber McLean, Shanique Morrison, Brina Dilbert and Tyrek Minzett. Brina and Tyrek received special awards for their efforts and accomplishments.

Encouraging Tyrek to share the experience with his peers, Premier McLaughlin said, “We have to find a better way to engage the young men of our country …. You have a very big responsibility to convince your friends that this is a productive program.”

Tyrek told the audience, “I was a rough and tough person, of few words …. At the start I felt like a weight was on my back, but when I decided to start coming on time, asking questions in class and getting my work done, things started to go good for me.”

He said a highlight of the work experience was learning how to interact with customers and “meeting lots of successful people.”

Graduate Abiann Gayle

Amber McLean, who recently gave birth to a baby girl and was attached to the Courts Office during the internship phase, also said she has high expectations for herself. In between juggling her new responsibilities, she said she is sharing the positive message of P2S with her friends.

Half of the group are now continuing their education, and the other four are already employed.

The government-funded Passport2Success work-preparedness program was initiated in 2010 to bridge the gap between leaving high school and entering the workforce.

For more information, contact the National Workforce Development Agency, email [email protected] or call 945-3114.

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