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Aabizikaawin graduates recognize the importance of their educational journeys

Scott Csernyik

7/14/2003 12:00:00 AM

Education is the key that opens a lot of doors according to Aabizikaawin Adult and Alternative Education graduate

"It's been a long journey and I am very appreciative," he stated during the May 15 graduation ceremony at the Soaring Eagle Resort. "I also appreciate all the teacher's support, plus my friends and family. The community as a whole is a fabulous thing. Once you get to know the people individually, you can build on those friendships. They never shut the door on me. I'm just going to rock on."

Besides Burch, the other graduates included Erica Bennett, Andy Chingman Jr., Winona Francis, Jeremy Pumford, Heather Hill, Amanda Joly and Jay Gibson.

Pumford also said it's been a long road to graduation.

"We set out on a path and we all made it," he said.

Joly was equally thankful for everyone's support, especially the Aabizikaawin staff.

"Even though I didn't agree with them all the time, they were there for me," she said.

In his opening remarks, Chief Maynard Kahgegab Jr. told the eight graduates they can make significant contributions to the community by using education as a tool.

"I challenge all of you to never stop learning," he said. "Continue seeking answers. I ask that you share in your ideas and knowledge to open that window of opportunity for yourselves and others. I also wish you continued success in your endeavors."

Song for the event was provided by Mkinaakoonsag (Little Turtle) Drum, as well as a musical performance from Aabizikaawin student Julie Martin.

In his commencement address, Dr. Daniel Ramirez-Shkwegnaabi used the N. Scott Momaday poem, "The Horse That Died of Shame" to help illustrate the graduates have defeated any fears that would preclude them from achieving their goals.

"These people have faced their fears and they have conquered them," he explained. "The lesson here in this poem is that you do not have to let fear conquer you in what you are doing.

"If you think about it for a moment, imagine what it would be like if you knew your fears and went beyond them. That's the message I'd like to communicate to you. Go past your fears in life."