The opening ceremony set the tone for an amazing day, with our emcee Manny Streetz from iHeart Radio KIIS FM engaging the crowd through interactive shout-outs and social media moments. Performances by the Kyodo Taiko Drummers as well as the Grupo Folklorico de UCLA received huge cheers and added a contagious energy to the morning. If you didn’t have a chance to join us, you can flip through a visual journey of the day by clicking HERE.
Students got a chance to sign our Fulfillment Fund 40th anniversary pledge boards, which encouraged them to write down a dream that they wanted to achieve. “I pledge to make my parents proud and put all my hard work into high school and make sure I go to a great school,” said Julia, a Destination College attendee.
Maria Booth shared her story of being a first-generation student with guests as they sat in the Ackerman Grand Ballroom, and also presented a special honorary award to Panda Express for their many years of dedicated in-kind support at Destination College.
On stage, Dr. Gitnick inspired students by encouraging them to focus on Excellence, Perseverance, Integrity and Community – EPIC, for short. “I sincerely hope you learn to pursue excellence,” he began. “Not excellence as you compare yourself to others, but excellence as you compare yourself to the accomplishments you’ve had in the past to the accomplishments you gain in the future. The concept of continuous improvement is how you build excellence.”
Dr. Tyrone Howard, Associate Dean for Equity & Inclusion, Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, shared a powerful and moving message to students, encouraging them to overcome the stereotypes and labels so often put on students of color, first generation students, and students from under-resourced communities or schools. Stedman Graham closed the show with an inspiring message about identity and set the stage for his parent workshop, where hundreds of English and Spanish-speaking parents came together to learn about how they could support their children’s future success.
Then our students, mentors and parents participated in dozens of workshops across the UCLA campus which covered topics like financial aid, college admissions, career networking, navigating the senior high school student timeline, and more. Later in the afternoon everyone came together in the beautifully sunlit Dickson Court for a college fair, lunch and raffle prizes. More than 70 colleges and universities came to share information with students, parents and Fulfillment Fund mentors!
Destination College is what the Fulfillment Fund is all about – empowering young students to graduate high school and get to college. We are proud to have so many people on our journey as we seek to fulfill this mission. To our sponsors and supporters, UCLA, Panda Express, and Suja, we are immensely grateful! We’d also like to give a huge thank you to our volunteers, staff, Board members, Leadership Council members and speakers who made this event so remarkable.