On Saturday, August 1, 2020, 60 vocational training graduates arrived to receive their diplomas. Two others showed up that day to check-in and received their diplomas later in the week. Since the schools closed in March, some students left the city to spend time with their families in the interior. So, we could see additional graduates in the coming weeks or months.
During the months of June and July, students came to the center to take a photo in a cap and gown for their diplomas. We took these photos and arranged them their respective courses as shown below. Please join us in congratulating the 2019/2020 graduates in receiving their diplomas!
Our heartfelt THANKS for being part of their year-long learning journey! Your kindness and support helped them achieve this important milestone of graduating.
On Saturday, June 6, 2020, the UDS Board and Co-Founders met to discuss this navigation into the new normal. We weighed out the options for your vocational training students, who would have graduated on April 13, 2020.
We quickly determined the best course of action was to give them their diplomas without a ceremony.
By now, most of us have seen the photos and videos of graduates around the world forgoing their ceremonies for being celebrated at home or in some other creative fashion. For UDS leadership, it made sense to give them their diplomas so they can start their career or entrepreneurship paths.
On Wednesday, June 10, the UDS Instructors, staff and Students attended a general meeting to discuss the plan for their graduation. They provided their input and asked if they could have their photo in their gown added to their diploma. What a simple request that can be granted.
The class of 2019/2020 has about 80 students ready to graduate. About half need to pay their tuition with balances from $5 to $20. They asked to give them until the end of June to settle their arrears. Everyone agreed to these terms.
The graduation plan is to rent two to three gowns for the students’ diploma photos. The diplomas will be printed and placed in a cover with the UDS logo and graduating class info. Each student will be notified of the time when they can pick up their diplomas.
Even though your students hoped to have a commencement ceremony, they are overjoyed with being able to receive their diplomas. In fact, the next day one of your students in both computer and hotel management courses shared her school pride on Facebook. Fanta Konneh gave us permission to share her posts with you.
In honor of this Thanksgiving Holiday in the U.S., we wanted to give the many reasons why we are grateful for YOU.
You made it possible for over 40 students to complete the Permaculture Design Certification Training in January.
Your generosity gave light to all students. Also, it allowed two UDS Electrician Classes to install Solar Power at the UDS Center in January and June 2019.
You supported 75 young men and women through their year-long journey of learning a trade. They started in March 2018 and graduated on April 13, 2019.
Your kindness empowered the UDS Liberian Team to answer the request of parents. They wanted an affordable and quality primary school in their community. Our team created UDS Academy in September 2018 and completed its first year of programming in June 2019.
Finally, you welcomed the third cohort of students in May 2019. They started their year-long journey in learning and practicing skills in their respective course(s). Your continued support will help them complete their course(s) and graduate in 2020.
Without a doubt, we have many reasons to be grateful for all that YOU do!
On Saturday, August 17, Kelvin Fomba (UDS Co-Founder & Director) served as the guest speaker for the Bethlehem Commencement Ceremony. As a note, 7 out of 17 Uniting Distant Stars scholarship students attend Bethlehem with one graduating, Deborah Tweah.
Kelvin spoke about 30 minutes talking about the role the teacher, parent and student all possess in achieving academic excellence. In addition, he explained how the UDS Vocational Training Center teaches the necessary skills for young people to learn a trade.
Next, he shared stories of our graduates finding work either through employment or using their skills for paid projects. As a result, the graduates responded and said they would like to attend UDS as they apply for colleges.
After Kelvin completed his talk, some journalists approached him for an interview. They wanted to interview him about our academic scholarship and vocational training program. He graciously shared how UDS brings supporters like you from different parts of the world to help with educating the youth. He expressed his gratitude over the radio for all of you in making it possible to serve Liberian Youth.
Your continued and generous support does changes the lives of young men and women for the better. Thank you for being their Classroom Hero!
Since 2011, Uniting Distant Stars partnered with generous sponsors to provide academic scholarships in primary and secondary level education. As we move forward to 2019, we are excited to announce the Graduation of Deborah Tweah! She is our fourth graduate from this program with the first in 2014 and the other two in 2016.
Deborah joined UDS in 2015 as one of the participants in the Backpacks for Peace Service Learning Project. While she was learning how to sew backpacks, she shared her struggle in finding support to return to school. Based on her efforts in the backpacks project, she received a sponsor to see her through graduation.
On Saturday, August 17, 2019, Deborah received her diploma from the Bethlehem Baptist School, a 5-minute walking distance from our school. Not only did she successfully pass the 12th grade but she also passed her national exam.
Sadly, Deborah did not have any family to attend her graduation. So, UDS leadership and scholarship students showed up to support her on this special day. Also, they held a celebration party at the center after the commencement ceremony. She felt honored to receive such a gift that she gave UDS Co-Founder & Director, Kelvin Fomba her gown and Brother Daniel Lloyd her cap (he helped facilitate the scholarship program when working with one of the partnership schools).
Thank you to Deborah’s sponsor for allowing her to graduate from high school! We hope that she can share her own story in a future article.
At the Uniting Distant Stars, we believe that your positive action combined with positive thinking, your results will definitely be a success.
Ooooh yeah, it’s remarkable to think that our past year in UDS has come to an end. But let’s take a moment to think about the time we spent together. It was full of twists and turns and also marked by countless challenges to overcome whether they were academic, sports, politics or personal.
It is a fantastic achievement for each and every one of us to have made it, and I am proud to share this moment with all of you. The truth is that we haven’t made it here on our own effort alone.
On behalf of the class of 2018/2019, I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge those who help us through to where we are today. First, to our hardworking administration here and our Godly Board Members of UDS in the U.S. for their dedication to the vulnerable youth, children and the needy to ensure that we become successful, and live a good life through the tradition of excellence and hard work that we may have a brighter future.
In this regard, we say thanks and appreciation again to the UDS Family all around the world for their relentless humanitarian support towards the development of our vulnerable youth in Africa. We also thank them again for training hundreds of youth, adults, and children in Liberia for them to be part of nation-building.
To my fellow graduates! We must be patient and be sincere to our masters and clients so we can enjoy the next phase of our lives in order for us to achieve our dreams. Special thanks to our hardworking Instructors for they taught us the values that we need in order for us to face our future without fear.
I will be remiss if I don’t recognize the best humanitarians of our time, they are also the twin founders of the UDS, they have done a lot to change the negative face and mindset of Africans into positivity. These legends are Mr. Kelvin S. Fomba and Miss Heather Cannon. We say thank you!
Information about Abel: He is 22 years old and dropped out of high school at grade 11 due to no financial support. He lived in Southern Sierra Leone before coming to Liberia. He graduated from UDS Vocational Training Center on April 13 with a Diploma in Plumbing. His long term goals include starting his own company. In the short term, he plans to gain experience through contract jobs. He currently received a plumbing opportunity in Paynesville, Liberia.