UDS Held Their 6th Graduation Ceremony on 11/4/23

UDS Held Their 6th Graduation Ceremony on 11/4/23

After delays from Liberia’s election, we decided to hold the commencement ceremony of our sixth cohort on Saturday, November 4, 2023. First, Thank student Pearl Clarke for decorating our center for the graduation.

Over the past year, we faced many challenges in recruiting and maintaining students for the 2022/2023 class. As we shared, many candidates decided to start temporary vocational training programs to garner votes from young people. Other students and staff members left to participate in the political process. While this is our third presidential election, this was the first that directly impacted our programming. 

With that being said, this year’s commencement celebrated 20 graduates, our lowest turnout since we started. The size did not deter our team from giving them the best program to recognize their success. First, our academic students provide entertainment, such as dancing and singing songs. Next, Kelvin, two instructors–Augustus and Emmanuel, and a parent gave remarks congratulating and encouraging them as they started their career journey. Finally, each student received their diplomas.

We uploaded several videos from the ceremony to our YouTube Channel. Below is a list of videos and highlights of what they are about. When you play them on YouTube, you can read the description for more information. Also, we wanted to feature the grand march of the graduates. 

We like to present the Uniting Distant Star 6th Cohort Graduates. They all received a diploma today in their respective trade course. This is their grand march to start the program. Congrats!

Graduation Entertain Featuring Phanlyn Angel Queedor – 11/4/23. Phanlyn Angel Queedor, 10th Grade Student, danced for the graduates.

Graduation Entertain Featuring Adea Zenkeapah – 11/4/23. Adea Zenkeapah, a 9th Grade Student, sang to the graduates. She is a newer UDS Academy Student.

Graduation Entertain Featuring Benetta Dahn – 11/4/23. Benetta Dahn. She is a 10th grader and will take one of our vocational training courses this year.

Augustus Appleton, UDS Satellite TV & Solar Installation Instructor -11/4/23. August talks about young women learning how to install solar., Then he encourages parents to have their students come to the school to learn a trade skill.

Emmanuel Duwah, UDS Cosmetology Instructor and Chelsea Fan For Life – 11/4/23.Emmanuel talks about one of his students, Janet Johnson, who also took an electrician course, climbing up poles.

UDS Vocational Training Parent Gives His Remarks During 6th Cohort Graduation – 11/4/23. He first thanked everyone and then talked about the importance of vocational training. He then stressed the importance of building a network. Finally, he ended with, “As you venture into the world of real work, I want you to go out there and shine and let the sky be luminous.”

Uniting Distant Stars Update 11/1/2023 – Recap of two Virtual Events and much more.

Uniting Distant Stars Update 11/1/2023 – Recap of two Virtual Events and much more.

Heather Cannon, Uniting Distant Stars Co-Founder & Executive Director, gives an update about virtual events in the October and November giving season.

00.22 Facebook Birthday Reminder.

01:39 Please Subscribe to our YouTube channel

02:24 Recap of UDS Youth Entrepreneurship Workshop With We Sparkle.

03:46 Recap of 10/28/23 Virtual Tea Time.

04:50 Shared post on Janet Johnson, electrician student.

05:36 Announced 2023 Give to the Max Campaign with $1,000 Matching Grant – https://www.givemn.org/story/uds2023

05:59 Talked about the upcoming Giving Tuesday campaign on November 28 – more details will be posted later. Check our Facebook page.

07:07 6th Cohort Graduation planned for November

07:13 Recruitment started for the 7th cohort. Email [email protected] for more information.

10:22 Thank you for all your support!

Bonus Information:

Liberia’s Thanksgiving is November 2

US Thanksgiving is November 23

10/28/23 Virtual Tea Time Replay

10/28/23 Virtual Tea Time Replay

We held our fifth Virtual Tea Time and enjoyed a wonderful conversation with two guests in Minnesota, twelve academic students, and one staff in Liberia. Our Virtual Tea Time allows people who cannot travel to and from Liberia to learn from each other and have fun. Please save the date for January 27, 2024, Virtual Tea Time.

As mentioned above, twelve students participated in this event. They were recently selected as vocational training scholarship recipients from two recent birthday fundraisers. They all struggle to meet their tuition needs, and many sell in the market to pay for schooling.

We started with introductions from the US to Liberia that included an icebreaker question, “What is your favorite thing to do?” We had two people who enjoyed walking, one playing games, two reading books, four working, two selling in the market, one singing, two like quizzing contests, one playing music, and two playing football.

Let’s introduce the students and staff from Liberia.

  • Konjay Mardeh, 10th Grade, Age 20
  • Louisezer  A. Somah, 10th Grade, Age 17
  • Marthaline Yarpah,  8th Grade, Age 15
  • Favor B. Morwu, 9th Grade, Age 17
  • Elder J. Larmouth, 9th Grade, Age 17
  • Godgift M. Barrolle, 10th Grade, Age 18
  • Abigal Karbah, 10th Grade, Age 19
  • Rebecca M. Mulbah, 10th Grade, Age 20
  • Marayata B. Kamara,  8th Grade, Age 19
  • Matthew W. Geebeor,  8th Grade, Age 19
  • Benetta K. C. Dahn, 10th Grade, Age 20
  • Lawrence Tarr, 10th Grade, Age 18
  • Godfrey Solomon, Staff and Teacher
  • Kelvin Fomba, Co-Founder, Director & Teacher

Guest Questions

What do you do before school, and do you have breakfast? The students said they take their baths and get ready, but no breakfast.

What is your goal after high school? One answered that she wanted to be an airline ticketing person, three girls said doctor, one girl said lawyer, one girl said international chef, one boy said military and another boy said a professional football player.

Do you look up at the stars? No, because of the city lights, and they are often busy with school, work such as selling in the market, and chores that they don’t get to look up.

Why did they like going to the UDS School? Some of the students responded that the teachers help them to learn reading and writing, public speaking, etc. Another said they teach not only lessons but also life. They liked how they guided them on the right path to better themselves. Also, the support they get when they struggling with school work or life’s stressors.

UDS Students in Liberia on Zoom enjoying their conversation with their two guests from Minnesota.

Student Questions

What did you do to earn a living? Both guests are retired but shared their various career paths that included computer programming in the 1960s, helping women learn non-traditional trades in vocational tech school, stacking books in the library, cleaning bathrooms in an office building, customer service, and working on university study, to name a few.

How old were you when you graduated high school? Both were 17, and one graduated in 1956 and the other in 1969. If you look at the ages of the students above, you will see they will all graduate in their early 20s.

What high school did you graduate from? Patrick Henry in Minneapolis and St. Louis Park, both in Minnesota.

In our setting now, we are fighting for our society to be bright. In bright in the sense that is education. Education is the only thing that can make change happen for us on this end. In which UDS make it necessary to be a blessing. So I much appreciate all those people out there; I really appreciate it a lot.

Quote from Godfrey Solomon
Godfrey Solomon, UDS Staff &Academic Teacher
Star Reflection – Remember 2022 When UDS Academy When Quizzing Contest & First Virtual Tea Time

Star Reflection – Remember 2022 When UDS Academy When Quizzing Contest & First Virtual Tea Time

On July 2, 2022, UDS Academy won the cup during the Better Youth Liberia in Collaboration with Teen Girls Liberia quizzing competition in the 2021/22 Jr. High Division. Learn more.

In July 2022, UDS hosted its first Virtual Tea Time, where guests met and chatted with our students and staff. These are inspiring events; our next one is October 28, 2023. Learn more.

Register For The Next Virtual Tea Time – October 28

Register For The Next Virtual Tea Time – October 28

Would you like to meet with one of our students or instructor? Our next Virtual Team Time is October 28, from 10 AM to 11 AM CST. This event will be worth every minute because you can talk with our youth and instructors and ask them questions. We do a roundtable Q&A session, where our Star Champions (Monthly Donors) start each round. Then, we leave time for the youth to ask you questions.

Please reserve your virtual seat for $10 unless you are a Star Champion who has donated $40 or more in a quarter, and your seat is free. Read the Star Champion benefits later in this newsletter. 

UDS Youth Entrepreneurship Workshop With We Sparkle

UDS Youth Entrepreneurship Workshop With We Sparkle

On Thursday, October 12, we partnered with We Sparkle Founder Michelle Tran Maryns and (Im)possible Cosmos Founder/Flight Director Nyemadi Dunbar for the UDS Youth Entrepreneurship Workshop. This event was our official reboot of virtual youth exchanges. Our last one was in 2017 with a Minneapolis-based youth group, youthrive

They both talked about entrepreneurship and provided tips for our young people to consider when starting or growing their businesses. Also, Michelle showed how her company, We Sparkle, provides free mobile tools to build their business site. She shared examples of sites created by Junior Achievement youth in junior and senior high, who she’s helped develop their entrepreneurship skills. 

Top left to bottom right: UDS Youth, Heather Cannon, Michelle Tran Maryns, and Nyemadi Dunbar.

Before concluding the workshop, Michelle assigned them homework to talk with people about their problems. This brought me back to when we launched Uniting Distant Stars in Liberia in 2013. We held a two-day Youth Leadership Workshop on Creative and Innovative Thinking. During this workshop, we focused on solving a problem and identifying what resources they had to help them with this quest. So, I added to their homework to start looking at what resources they could use to solve the problem and support their business.

UDS Youth attentively listening to Michelle and Nyemadi

Thanks to Kelvin FombaMyrtle S Toe, and Mohammed Gbettu for organizing the event in Liberia!