Last Friday, dozens of Adult Education graduates walked across the stage of John Oliver's auditorium to the applause of hundreds of friends, teachers and family members. It was an emotional time with more than one student speaker breaking into tears as they recounted powerful stories of their triumphs over adversity.
Alizera Daneshvarshahrodian was one of the many graduates who received his diploma that night. He was also Roberts Education Centre's valedictorian.
Daneshvarshahrodian got there after a long and challenging journey. Born in Tehran, Iran, he and his family left the country as refugees in the mid-1990s. For the next ten years he lived with his family in Turkey in poverty. Each day, he watched as his neighbours headed off to school, while he stayed behind. When he was finally able to make it to Vancouver several years ago, Daneshvarshahrodian enrolled in class in Port Moody Secondary. He was starting well behind his peers, but that didn't deter him.
Studying in English was a challenge and while Daneshvarshahrodian made great progress, he soon became too old to stay at Port Moody Secondary. That's when he learned about Roberts Adult Education Centre. With its focus on a semester system and ability to cater to a variety of different educational needs, it was a perfect fit. Each day, he made the long commute to downtown Vancouver from Burnaby.
Daneshvarshahrodian credits the great work of his teachers and academic advisors Avaleigh and Maria for his success. When he learned he was named Robert's valedictorian, he said he was flying.
Daneshvarshahrodian says his next step in education will be BCIT where he plans to pursue a degree in food technology. The two year diploma will allow him to one day become a health inspector, a position that appeals to him because of its purpose of "working for the people."
Daneshvarshahrodian's story is mirrored by dozens of other equally inspiring ones. During the ceremony that night valedictorians Dylan Young, Kevin Summers, Nicole Gilles, Jenelyn Cataquiz and Khine Htwe all had a chance to speak to the excellence of the Adult Education Centres. Grads Surayya Jan, Keiko Furukawa, Chak Estable, L. Arias and I Artola Roa were all honoured with bursaries. It was a powerful evening that highlights just how important Adult Education is for the lives of many Metro Vancouverites.
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