Distinguished UMass Historian Encourages HEC Academy Graduates to Pursue their Dreams

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NORTHAMPTON, MA – Professor John Bracey Jr., Chair of the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, encouraged the seven seniors graduating today from HEC Academy to follow their dreams without the fear of failure. HEC Academy is an alternative school managed by the Collaborative for Educational Services (CES) in Northampton.

Bracey inspired listeners at today’s graduation ceremony at Smith College’s Sage Hall in Northampton; saying that the hallmark of a good life is not necessarily achieving your dreams, but having the courage to pursue them.

Failure, he said, is merely “an opportunity to do something different the next time.”

Bracey said that while he is asked to speak at various events around the nation, he considers the opportunity to speak at the HEC Academy graduation a great honor; as the students at this special education high school have overcome many challenges during their academic careers and should be proud to have reached this point.

“You are already successes,” he told the graduates sitting behind him on the stage.

Prior to Bracey’s speech, Former CES Executive Director Dr. Joan Schuman presented the first annual award of the Joan E. Schuman Scholarship to graduating senior Kianna Pinckney-Brown, who will be pursuing a liberal studies education.

The Schuman Scholarship Fund was established earlier this year to provide one or more one-time scholarships each year to special education students) graduating from HEC Academy or from CES member school districts, and moving on to a two- or four-year higher education institution.

Smith Vocational High School graduating senior Marquie Ann Gardner also received a 2014 Joan E. Schuman Scholarship Award.

Please visit the Schuman Scholarship Fund_website for more information about the awards.

For more information about the Collaborative?s Special Education programs, please visit Special Education Program website.

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