Matilda Bonilla, a Training Specialist at STRIVE New Haven, took on another role last week: Graduate and Commencement Speaker.
Matilda was among those featured in a New Haven Independent story about the city’s Adult Education Graduation. Others included former child soldiers from Sudan who have built a life in the US.
The story describes her journey:“Twenty-seven years ago, I was supposed to be here,” Bonilla began. “But I became a young mother.” Bonilla dropped out of high school when she became a teen mom. “I put my child and my family first,” she said, “and I put myself second.” She thanked the Adult Ed staff, including Principal Alicia Caraballo, who’s retiring after 26 years, for encouraging her to go back for her diploma: “They always said, ‘Come back.’” And she did. “I came back in the morning. I came back in the afternoon. I came back at night.” Now, she said, “I stand here loud and proud.” “It doesn’t matter how old you are,” she told the crowd. She thanked her four children for helping her along the way. “I love you, momma!” called out her daughter. “I love you too, baby,” she replied.
In addition to her job at STRIVE Matilda is now taking classes at Gateway Community College. Congratulations Matilda!