Chentese graduates from Gettysburg College

They say it takes a village. This post is dedicated to my village. Without the support of family, friends, mentors, advisors, former teachers and professors, there is no way that I would have made it through these past four years. Being a first-generation student is an experience like no other – we carry the world on our shoulders and put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect. To defy the odds and make our families proud, because this degree isn’t just for us, it’s for every person that came before us and weren’t afforded the privilege of higher education for whatever reason that may be. This degree is for my family, who are always so sure of my capabilities to excel even when I am unsure of myself. This degree is for my grandmother and father who I know were shining down on me from the clouds, sending me all their love and well wishes as I crossed that stage. This degree is for all the little girls and boys growing up in North Philly, who were told that they would never amount to anything. And last but not least, this degree is for my future students – you can do ANYTHING you put your mind to. Don’t let society’s standards be a deciding factor on your success. You are strong, mighty and capable. Your adversities are only a testament to how far you will go.

The “future students” Chentese is referring to are the young people she will be teaching once she completes her three-year teaching residency program sponsored by KIPP Schools. Chentese also spent her summer as an intern on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. as part of the KIPP Schools Federal Policy Fellowship.