I’m heading to BUILD’s Second Annual Graduation and First-ever Alumni Homecoming at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont today. I’m super excited because I started working at BUILD when these guys were freshmen. I feel like in many ways I’m graduating right alongside them. Here’s an open letter that I wrote to them:
From the very first day of the BUILD class during your freshman year you all shined and showed amazing potential. Over the last four years, we ushered and guided you through the BUILD program and challenged you in ways that none of your peers were being challenged. Through the challenges of creating a business, building a team, and learning what it takes to really run a business, you exceeded expectations over and over again.
Since then we have had lots of great timesâ€”like the amazing college tours to Los Angeles and San Diego, our Business Plan Competition with the Oakland students, and the countless nights in the Incubator with the BUILD familyâ€”and also lots of challenging timesâ€”like the deaths of loved ones, violence in our community, and other personal strugglesâ€”but through it all, we all stuck together and supported each other. When the challenges confronted you, you didnâ€™t give up. You made positive choices, persevered, and defied stereotypes.
When you get to college, know that even though we will no longer be there with you physically, you already have everything you need to be successful. You have always had it. Itâ€™s what made you a success at BUILD in the first place. Continue to speak up and advocate for yourselves, and remember to keep that ambitious fire lit inside of you.
Donâ€™t ever forget that you helped to make the BUILD Peninsula site the beautiful, warm, and special place that it is, and you will always have a place here. On behalf of the entire BUILD staff, we hope you come back to visit often or in the very least send us messages on Myspace or Facebook (or the old fashioned email) with tales from college. We are blessed and fortunate that you all chose BUILD as your vehicle to access higher education, which will ultimately give you the tools necessary to excel in education, lead in your communities, and succeed professionally.
Congratulations, graduates, and best wishes!