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NAC Seniors Celebrate Their Successes at the NAC's 1st Annual Senior Day
July 11, 2014
Throughout their time at the Nicholas Academic Centers, NAC students work closely with staff, studying with tutors, planning college visits with the Higher Education Services team, learning to see the world differently through participating in field trips or community service projects, or even documenting NAC events with the Media Club. Needless to say, bonds develop, and students’ achievements become shared successes for the entire NAC family.
 
At the culmination of each academic year, the NAC honors its students’ accomplishments at an annual graduation celebration; however, with more than 120 students in a graduating class, and considering the formal nature of the annual affair, not all of the graduating seniors get a chance to share their stories with their peers, or with staff who have served as mentors and friends along the way. To allow an opportunity for such sharing, and to celebrate at once the outgoing graduates and the incoming class of rising seniors, the NAC held its first annual Senior Day on Thursday, June 26, at Valley High School.
 
During the celebration, NAC staff and students recalled memories, laughed out loud and often, and enjoyed fresh-made tacos from a taquero. Rosa Diaz, Chief Officer of Operations and Programs, noted that such celebrations are bittersweet in that outgoing graduates will no longer be around on a daily basis, but only because they have started down a new path in their educational journey, one rich with opportunity, a path staff have encouraged students to follow from the start. 
 
Matthew Murdock, a Mentor and Academic Tutor, contemplated the general excitement that the future holds for NAC students, but asked them to take a moment to pause and reflect about the hard work they have put into making their future brighter. Matt also encouraged students to congratulate themselves for having persevered in spite of difficulties. 
 
Many other voices joined the celebration, including Fernando Martinez, who admitted that he regularly examines the role he plays in students’ lives as the Director of Academic Services at NAC 2. Fernando mentioned that whenever he doubts himself, the success of the students he mentors gives him strength and a renewed sense of purpose.
 
NAC Class of 2014 graduate Marc Anthony Aguirre, who will attend UC Berkeley in the fall, gave a hopeful class address, noting that recent graduates must continue to pursue their education and prove that NAC students have what it takes to go out and positively impact the world.  Marc stated, “We must pursue what we love, pursue what we want, and we must chase, in the words of the great Thomas Jefferson, ‘the pursuit of happiness.’”
 
Following Marc's class address, Maria Cortes, Director of Higher Education Services, and Chandra Jenkins, Assistant Director of Higher Education Services, shared the podium. To a cheering class of recent NAC graduates, Maria noted, “This is the last time that we can call you NAC seniors. From now on, you are officially NAC alumni.” For Chandra, the Class of 2014 marked the fifth class of NAC students with whom she has worked, and the second class of students she has known since they were freshmen. Whereas Maria commented on the NAC alums new classification, Chandra welcomed rising seniors to NAC senior status.
 
At one point in the evening, laughter erupted through the audience when students found out that one of the Academic Mentors had eaten 25 tacos on a dare, and students soon created a makeshift dance floor to participate in an impromptu line dance. Later, as the celebration wound down, several students and staff played family-style board games. 
 
Indeed, it was a NAC family affair, one that will likely become a tradition in years to come.