“The Future is Ours”

What began as a dream to train students for a career in the field of Information Technology has become a reality! The first class of 20 students from the St. Francis School of Technology (SFST) graduated on July 25 at the Medal Church in Jeremie, with more than 500 community members, family and friends in attendance. The graduates selected the theme “The Future is Ours” in celebration of the occasion.

The graduation ceremony had a dual purpose: honoring the students’ accomplishments and raising the challenge of continuing education in Jeremie. Speakers for the event included Fr. Marc Arthur, volunteer English teacher Rose Yunker, class instructor William Philippe, ceremony coordinator Elisabeth Cesar and the founder of Tek4Kids and SFST, Gary Boice.

The graduating class chose the name “Rose Yunker” to honor the dedication and service of their beloved teacher, who began teaching English at SFST in September, 2015 on a volunteer basis when the school opened. Many students now credit Yunker with their increased understanding and usage of English as they pursue careers in IT.

All 20 graduating students received diplomas at the event. The top four students of the SFST class of 2018 also received certificates in recognition of their outstanding achievement: Franso Pierre, Jean Kister Junior Desaix, Daphna Jean Pierre and Samuel Vincent. The class of 2018 “passed the flame” in a candle lighting ceremony to the incoming class and encouraged them to work diligently in their studies.

Instructor William Philippe commented on the struggles to begin and maintain SFST, noting they had been struck by human tremors and natural disasters. When Hurricane Matthew destroyed much of their equipment in 2016, he wondered what would become of the seed of hope that had been planted in these young people. Fortunately, Gary and Cathy Boice were not going to give up the fight to provide an opportunity for a quality technology education in Jeremie. Philippe thanked them, their son Michael and all those who have supported SFST economically and administratively. He went on to thank the parents who made great sacrifices so their children could attend and graduate from SFST.

Gary Boice remarked that these 20 students have now been trained in networking, Microsoft Server, programming, database, web design and other areas (such as English). He and his wife, Cathy, have also started a for profit company, Technology Integrators Caribbean (TIC) in order to hire many of these students and enhance job opportunities in Jeremie. The profits from TIC will be donated back to Tek4Kids.

For the upcoming 2018-2019 academic year, Tek4Kids Haiti offices and SFST are moving to a new facility with 8 classrooms, office space and internet café (for the staff and students). The extra space will allow expansion of our curriculum and outreach to the community.

Our Haitian staff, US staff and many volunteers are excited about the difference Tek4Kids is making in Jeremie. Our students and graduates will propel themselves and Haiti toward a more prosperous future . . . indeed, the future is theirs!

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