Good Afternoon. My name is Meleny Toro.

I would like to begin by extending a huge THANK YOU to you all for being here, as well as our YouthBuild (YB) faculty here in Worcester. Without all of you, none of the work we do would be possible.

I have learned a lot being in this program as far as on the job skills, and general knowledge of the construction profession. We covered a number of different applications such as siding, roofing, HVAC, floor installation, measurements, the tools I need for my job at hand, and safely and properly securing my work zone. Jerry, (Worcester YB Worksite Supervisor/ Trainer) and Karl (Assistant Worksite Trainer) really do a great job preparing us for all aspects of the field.

I am honored to be a part of such a great program with all the great teachers and mentors I have come across, both on and off the work site. Throughout our time here, we have had so many opportunities. From touring different facilities, to meeting professionals in the STEM and construction fields, we have been exposed to things we may have never had a chance to before.

For some of us, it was our first time at the State House, or the first time meeting our representatives. For some of us this was also the first time we felt like part of something bigger – like our contribution mattered.

I didn’t come from a privileged background. I constantly feel like I’m at a disadvantage being a young, single, homeless parent, but being a part of YouthBuild doesn’t make me feel alone -- EVER. I feel like I have grown to know each and every one of these people -- my classmates and teachers -- and to appreciate their diverse opinions and points of view. We all come from different places, but came here to make a positive change in our lives.

Though separating business from pleasure through working and learning is challenging sometimes, YouthBuild makes it fun! We are allowed to grow with the help and support of the program staff to guide the process.

I have learned and experienced a lot with my YouthBuild class. For that, I would like to thank you all. You have made this growth as comfortable as it could be while facing our many challenges.

*NOTE - Meleny delivered her graduation speech to her fellow students, TRA staff, family, friends and invited guests at the Worcester YouthBuild graduation held at Mechanics Hall, Worcester, MA on November 29, 2018.

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