Congratulations,  Class of 2016!

Graduate at podium


Student Dedication turns to Graduate Celebration

The mood was electric in the Austin ISD Performing Arts Center auditorium as the at-capacity crowd of families, friends, teachers, life coaches, and community leaders cheered on The Goodwill Excel Center graduates on the evening of June 30th. The heartwarming event brought tears to many, and joy to all.


137 students at The Goodwill Excel Center have been studying, learning, and growing in their knowledge over the past year, working towards the Big Day – Graduation Day! Many of them have families, work full time or part time, and are taking additional classes at The Goodwill Career and Technical Academy simultaneously.

The Goodwill Excel Center Class of 2016!

And that evening at the AISD Performance Art Center, all that dedication and hard work paid off, as many of those students walked the stage to receive their high school diplomas.

More than 120 graduates took part in the ceremony.

The Goodwill Excel Center is the first charter school in Texas where adults over the age of 25 can earn their high school diploma, and these graduates just changed their futures and their family’s futures.

Ted Delisi gave the welcoming address.

The ceremony opened with a heart-felt welcome by Ted Delisi, Goodwill Education Board President, followed by Matt Williams, Head of School and Vice President of Education for Goodwill Central Texas, who gave the Commencement Speech.

Matt Williams shared some great advice with the graduates.

The two highest-ranking graduates, Celia Ramirez and Fanny Claudia Pola Dominguez, were awarded a free year of college, provided through Texas Education Code, Section 54.301.

Celia and Fanny were proud to accept their awards for a free year of college!

Mr. Williams then announced the winners of the Winnie Maciver Gage Scholarship, Raven Dawn and Frederanique Cannon. Winnie Gage presented the scholarships.

The winners of the Winnie Maciver Gage Scholarship! Raven, pictured left, will be continuing her education in the field of nursing and Frederanique, pictured right, will be attending college to study engineering. They are joined by Winnie Gage, who presented the scholarships.

“These graduates are part of a larger picture of positive change for our Central Texas community,” said Mr. Williams. “They bring incredible value and life skills into our marketplace, and they have taken this second chance and turned it into positive change for them and for their families.”

Following Mr. Williams, Kaitlen Garcia, Graduate Speaker, shared her journey to walking the stage that evening. “I think we’ve all discovered that we just need to take that opportunity, work hard, and have a great attitude,” said Kaitlen. “We’ve been given an amazing opportunity to earn our diplomas. But it’s more than a diploma. It’s our opportunity to excel in life, by being self-sufficient, by being an example to our children…by helping us find careers.”

Kaitlen, Graduate Speaker, absolutely nailed her speech, and then gave her Math Teacher, Ana Perez, a huge hug!

The Goodwill Excel Center opened its doors to individuals August 2014. This is its second graduation. In 2015, the school was expanded to accommodate up to 550 students, including drop-out prevention and services to adults ages 17-25. The school also began offering extended class hours to 10pm to work with the students’ varied schedules.

Traci Berry announces the graduates.

“I am struck by how similar my view is from just one year ago,” said Traci Berry, Superintendent and Senior Vice President of Community Engagement and Education at Goodwill Central Texas, as she addressed the graduates. “I see the excited faces and I see proud family and friends. But there is one thing very different – there are so many of you! And it is thrilling!”

She continued, “By enrolling you refused to take the well-traveled path; to accept the status quo. You’ve all taken different paths to get here, but you took them, and you’re leading the way for future generations to get an education, no matter the obstacle.”

Time for diplomas!

Jerry Davis, President and CEO of Goodwill Central Texas, closed out the ceremony with this statement to the graduates: “Know that all of your sacrifices were worth it; know that your family sees you setting an example; know that your community is embracing your accomplishments. Tonight you have changed – on this night, you are high school graduates!”

Jerry Davis announces the Class of 2016.

Watch the graduates turn their tassels! Then get ready for hats to fly!

Congratulations to the entire Class of 2016, and our heartfelt thanks to Central Texans who have supported our vision of empowering Central Texans to transform their lives through work, and making The Goodwill Excel Center a reality!

For more information, visit The Goodwill Excel Center or call 512.531.5500.


Education & Training


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