June 14, 2021

We Celebrate Our 2021 Graduates!

We honor and celebrate all of our 2021 youth for reaching their goals and accomplishments. We are proudly happy that this year, 100% of our senior youth finished high school! Each of these youth have unique dreams and individual plans as they look beyond high school. At Friends of the Children-Portland (FriendsPDX), we affirm that each youth is valued, we see them, and we hear them. Our youth and their mentor, called a Friend, walk side by side for 12.5 years. Four of these youth, who joined the FriendsPDX community in kindergarten, share their experience and future goals:

Latrell has nurtured his Spark for gaming. Find Your Spark, one of the nine research-based Core Assets that youth get to develop, encourages creativity to explore an individual’s interest and passion. Latrell has continued to learn about gaming, supported his Friend with our virtual Spark Squad gaming tournaments, and this Spark has created a foundation for him to explore the possibility of becoming a content creator in video games.

Zhada’s goal is to be a pediatrician, a dream she will pursue as a Pre-Med student at Clark Atlanta University. She is thankful knowing her Friend has always had her back, no matter what. Being a victim of racial hate crime in 2017, the one-to-one support was especially needed during high school. “Having that mentor, I really cannot thank her enough for just having my back, for believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself and for supporting me day in and day out.” Zhada also received the Wing’s Scholarship this year, which will help her tremendously in reaching her goals.

Ramaya has a lot of people rooting her on and is excited for this next step in life. Her dream is to own a salon and open a product line for skincare, so she enrolled to study Business Management at Grambling State University. When thinking about her relationship with her Friend, she shared “We have a really strong bond, we text every day, she comes to see me every week, we do Zoom calls, she helps me with my homework all the time. I just know she’s someone I can always rely on.”

Before high school began, Amen advocated to attend Jesuit High School envisioning this opportunity as a step towards her dream. Attending a high school outside of her neighborhood meant getting up at 5:30 AM to wait at a coffee shop near the school until the campus opened. Through support from her Friend and the Friends of the Children - Portland community, Amen has been empowered to use her voice pushing back against the narrative. “Now that I’m older and I’m realizing what social justice means, and what it encompasses, I’ve realized that’s what I want to do with my future. That’s why I want to be a lawyer after I graduate, because I know the justice system doesn’t always work, especially for people that look like me, so I want to make sure that even if it’s just a few families who get their dad or their brother or son back, I want to make sure that’s what happens.”

From our Friends of the Children - Portland community to our 2021 youth:

We celebrate you! Thank you for teaching us and we are honored that you let us walk with you.

We are always and forever cheering you on!

Please enjoy Zhada and Ramaya’s interview with KGW and Amen’s story during this year’s Friend Raiser.