By Veronica Norris (“Ms. V”)
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was so disheartening for graduates to learn that their graduation ceremonies would be cancelled or would be virtual. The gratification of physically being a part of their ceremony to thank families, friends and supporters who got them to their milestones in life, for some, may be overwhelming!
Graduates have expressed that this pandemic has impacted many families in such an epic way — from personal deaths of families, friends, job losses, food venues, mental illness, increases in domestic violence and an array of many dynamics at so many levels.
As I listened to the countless stories of our youth and young adults as they try to wrap their heads around this crisis, I was compelled to write their brief stories and share with the thousands of readers and supporters of this publication. This week my focus for PROUD MOMENTS are on the following graduates!
Congratulations to the Class of 2020!
Nariah Williams is 23 years old with two degrees from Widener University. A bachelor’s degree in Business Management-Human Resources which she received in 2019, and a MBA in Organizational Leadership which she received this year.
Throughout her time at Widener, Nariah was a great pillar to her community. She served as a president and vice president of the National Council of Negro Women, which she helped charter on Widener’s campus. She was also a member of the Honor Fraternity Phi Sigma Pi, a mentor to the freshman and sophomore students at Widener, and did volunteer work for the city of Chester, while still maintaining her position on the dean’s list. A shout out to her mother, Daphne Laibhen — her greatest supporter! Again, congratulations to Nariah Williams.
Arianna Ahiagbe is 29 years old. She graduated from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University on Friday, May 8, 2020. She received Doctor of Medicine (MD) and Master of Arts in Urban Bioethics (MAUB) degrees.
Arianna’s next stop is pediatrics at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, FL. Her “drive-by” graduation celebration was held in South Philadelphia. Thanks to the action of her mother, Veronica Ahiagbe, the Action News camera crew was on hand to film it. A great memory to help dull the disappointment of this graduate from a canceled graduation ceremony due to the pandemic. As you will note, it seems that Arianna has been attending school most of her life to achieve the goals she set forth for herself.
Tayluer Streat-Ricchiuti is 22 years old. Tayluer received her bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Bio-Medical Systems from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, (ERAU Class of 2020). She also had the opportunity to serve as the secretary and pre-college initiative chair for the National Society of Black Engineers, and is an active member of the Society of Women Engineers, Biomedical Engineering Society, and Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps.
Tayluer was also a team member for the Ankle Exoskeleton Research Project. She will be attending Cleveland State University for her master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering.
Tayluer — a Philadelphia native who grew up in Logan with her family and extended family — attended Mount Saint Joseph Academy for high school. She was a part of her high school robotics team, who encouraged her to pursue a degree in engineering. Proud mother Juanita and father Pete share the joy of such accomplishments.