CHARLESTOWN – With big bright smiles and an air of confidence that comes with earning a degree, newly-minted graduates of the JAS Biomedical Careers program celebrated on Tuesday morning the first step toward a successful life.
“With job offers, internships, and interviews lining up for you, doors are beginning to open for you,” said Deborah Ruhe, executive director of the Just-A-Start, the Cambridge-based community development corporation that in conjunction with Bunker Hill Community College, administers the 9-month certificate program.
Since its inception in 1993, the JAS Biomedical Careers program has produced more than 500 graduates and placed many in the biotech and biomedical industry in Cambridge and Boston.
The JAS Biomed Careers Program is to provide comprehensive biotechnology skills training to adults who do not have access to higher educational programs due to financial constraints, and provide well-trained entry-level technicians and lab support members for biotechnical, research, and medical industries.
Ms. Ruhe reminded the audience that the mission of JAS is to create opportunity and help people improve their lives, and realize the unique pathways provided by the American dream.
“You are an amazing group, expanding your options and opportunities through dedication and hard work,” Ms. Ruhe said. “I wish you well as you continue your life’s journey.”
State Senator Sal DiDomenico lauded the graduates for their dedication to themselves and each other, and noting that his first official act as a state senator was to secure funding for JAS, a program he said he values very much.
Other featured speakers included Mark Wigfall, Associate Director of Workforce Development for Bunker Hill Community College, Stephen Meunier, Associate Director of Public Affairs for Genzyme, and Dr. Pam Y. Eddinger, president of Bunker Hill Community College.
Dr. Eddinger told the graduates she wished the JAS Biomedical Careers Program existed when her family came to America from Hong Kong when she was a child. She said her father worked as a waiter and her mother as a seamstress so she could have a professional career.
“It is a joy for me to work in a place like this that partners with an organization such as Just-A-Start,” she said. “It is an honor. Congratulations.”
Van Spanos, director of education and training for JAS presented the Warren P. MacEachern Memorial Award to Manoj Acharya for his contributions to the JAS Biomedical Careers Program, and Teachers James Kim and Kari Jensen introduced co-valedictorians Brian Jewell and Indrani Nandi.
John Witt, program director for JAS, encouraged the graduates to use the network of fellow JAS Biomed alumni and not to forget about the instructors and others rooting for them at JAS. “Our program is all about you,” he said.
The 2014 JAS Biomed Careers Program graduates are: Manoj Acharya, Nasima Akter, Maryam Aqchour, Kenny Beauzille Marcellus, Stanley Bernard, Romuald Cabrol, Misgun Ghebreselasse, Woubshet Hailu, Hussein Hare, Andre Henriques, Mark Hines , Brian Jewell, Shamima Khahan, Rachel Marshall, Indrani Nandi, Angella Pottinger, Brentha Sathyuendra, and Sarah Thomas.