Congrats, 2021 Graduates!

Held this year at the Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex in Austin on June 5, The Goodwill Excel Center Graduation Ceremony was a momentous occasion for so many adult high school graduates and their families. After countless hours of hard work, students felt the pride that comes with the accomplishment of earning a diploma.

Some graduates from the Class of 2020 were in attendance so they could experience walking across the stage to receive their diploma, due to last year’s pandemic-necessitated drive-thru ceremony.

We also had the great pleasure of congratulating our 1,000th graduate since the school’s inception in 2014 — who just happened to be Starrine Shanklin.

Fun fact: Our total number of graduates now tallies an impressive 1,068 in just seven years, and the overall Class of 2021 will increase it to nearly 1,200 by year’s end!

Keep scrolling for our photo-filled recap of more commencement highlights.

So Happy Together

For the seventh consecutive year, President of the Goodwill Education Board Ted Delisi gave the welcome speech. He expressed appreciation for being able to safely hold an in-person ceremony this year, and credited students and staff for their flexibility and resilience when faced with the sudden switch to virtual learning.

You hung in there and adapted, and so did your teachers, life coaches, and administrative staff! Without any hesitation, we all embraced a whole new way of instructing and interacting, and not only did we rise to the challenge — we met it head-on with grit and greatness!”

Next Up

Superintendent of The Goodwill Excel Center Traci Berry stepped to the mic to announce the 2021 scholarships and endowed awards recipients.

Winnie MacIver Gage Scholarship:

Rose Marie Rocha

Dr. Billy Harden Student Leadership Awardees:

Antonio Martinez

Iris Molina

Rose Marie Rocha

Netspend Scholarship:

Alyssa Hernandez

Aprilstar LaFond

Aaliyah Rodriguez

Starrine Shanklin

Thomas Thrasher


Brittany Herrera

Iris Molina

Diana Puga Gasca


Selene Arreola

Aricela Berruquin

Rose Marie Rocha

Speech, Speech!

Returning to the stage was none other than Rose Marie Rocha, who delivered an inspiring Graduate Commencement Address and shared her personal story of triumphing through the challenges of getting her diploma, both as a teen and as an adult. She thanked her fellow classmates, teachers, and life coach, Ms. Wendy, for their support that’s continuing to move her forward.

“We graduate today, but we begin a new journey. I plan to attend Peloton University to obtain my bachelor’s degree in Communications and return to The Goodwill Excel Center to pay it forward and help others like us cross the bridge to a new path.”

And Move Your Tassel to the Left!

Excel Superintendent Traci Berry returned to the mic to share a few parting thoughts. She praised students for their dedication, tenacity, and bravery before presenting each graduate with their diploma.

There were so many proud smiles, both on and off the field, as students crossed the stage and waved to the crowd. Traci then officially pronounced the Class of 2021 high school graduates, and cheers erupted from the stadium seats. Students reunited with their friends, family, and well-wishers to take photos and start their well-earned celebrations!

Excelling at Education

If you or someone you know is considering going back to school to get their high school diploma, The Goodwill Excel Center is a great choice. Free for adults ages 18 – 50, it’s a supportive learning environment that empowers students to succeed, with on-site childcare, transportation assistance, and life coaching. To find out more, click here.