CASES Hosts Youth Graduation and Employment Workshop at New Harlem Office

CASES has opened a new program location in Central Harlem at 4 W. 125th Street. This 25,000-square foot space has brought all of CASES’ Manhattan-based youth and young adult programming to a single location with an entire floor dedicated to services for young people.  

Sophia Morel, CASES Senior Director of Education, Career & Enrichment (ECE) Services, said of the move, “This office is a huge asset for CASES, and gives ECE participants a space of their own.”  

As ECE programs have ramped up in-person services, the new office has become increasingly busy. Two recent events—a resume writing workshop featuring local musicians and a long overdue graduation reception—highlight the approach of CASES ECE staff and the resilience of the young people in CASES programs in achieving their goals.  

In August, the ECE team’s Credentialing Specialist Precious Jones hosted a resume writing workshop. She noticed that many of her clients needed help creating an effective resume and wanted all CASES clients to have the opportunity to learn how to successfully market themselves to potential employers. To attract attendees and to celebrate being able to gather in the new office, staff worked to make the workshop feel like a celebration. The ECE team arranged with Home Sweet Harlem to kindly provide discounted lunches for participants attending. The Credentialing Specialist invited local musicians to speak on a panel. The artists spoke candidly with CASES young people about their own struggles and journeys.  

“It’s good for clients to see successful people who come from similar backgrounds and turned it around,” Precious says.  

The event was a success and attendees felt that they learned a lot. After the workshop, Precious recalled one participant commenting about his new understanding of why he previously did not get call backs when submitting his resume for job applications.  

A few weeks later, in mid-September, CASES held a long-delayed ceremony—also at the new Harlem location—to honor 16 young people who with the support of CASES HSE teachers have successfully earned their High School Equivalency (HSE) diploma since statewide testing through our onsite testing services.   

“Working with High School Equivalency (HSE) students is really an honor,” Parvoneh Shirgir, CASES Supervisor of Academic Instruction, says. “CASES educators get to connect with young people who may have been out of school for years, and who are balancing a lot of responsibilities in life, but still manage to find time to pursue their goals. There is a lot of growth involved when pursuing the HSE, not only with academic skills but also in the social-emotional realm. So when students progress, take the HSE exams, and pass, we love to celebrate all the efforts that led to the degree.” 

The graduation ceremony featured a procession of the graduates, followed by addresses from CASES teachers and staff who taught and supported them on their path to this achievement. Several graduates then took the floor to speak for themselves, thanking their instructors and supporters and highlighting how special this moment was for them. 

These graduates not only overcame their own individual challenges to earn HSE degrees, they did so in the face of heightened difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With their HSE diploma earned, these students now have expanded prospects for career paths, further education, and professional training programs.  

Ms. Shirgir adds, “Our graduates looked truly accomplished as they turned their tassels while sporting their caps and gowns at our ceremony in September. It was so special to hear poetry and encouraging words from our HSE Teachers, and to witness the graduates commend each other and bond over this shared experience. Our heartiest congratulations go out to the 16 members of the class of 2021!”