Starting the new year in the best possible way, with the graduation of Kiera Satele, our first graduate of 2015!

Posted on Tuesday January 27, 2015

Meet our first graduate of 2015, Passages student Kiera Satele!


You may remember Kiera and her son, MJ, from our 2013 annual letter. Kiera enrolled in our Passages Program for teen parents in 2012, and now she’s our very first graduate of the new year! You can read Kiera’s full 2013 interview here:  KIERA 2013

At the time, Kiera said she enrolled in Passages because, “I wasn’t doing well in high school. I thought I would do better in a program that I could do at home. I probably wouldn’t have finished high school if I stayed in the public schools because I wouldn’t have been able to do it as a young mom… I like having one on one time with my teacher and being able to work at my own pace.  I also like that my teacher comes to my house. That has made my life less stressful in many ways. This program has given me more hope for my future. We work on setting goals. Having goals to work towards has helped me to push myself. If someone has the opportunity to enroll in the Passages Program, I would say, “do it!”

Kiera also expressed her concern that many people have misconceptions about teen parents, saying, “I also feel like a lot of people think teen moms can’t be good parents because we are young. I put my child first and make better decisions since my son, MJ, was born. I love being a parent. It has helped me to grow up a lot and mature. I now have my priorities straight.”

This topic later became the theme of Kiera’s final Passages graduation project, described here by Kiera’s teacher Stephanie Whiting:

“This project came about because Kiera feels that young mothers are judged based on their age, instead of their ability to parent. It is very important to her to get the word out to people that it is possible to be a loving, dedicated mother, even though you are young.  Kiera shared her message with a group of students between the ages of 12-14 at Tree Street Youth Center.  She chose to present to this age group because she wanted to not only share her message, but also to explain the realities, joys, and challenges of being a young parent. The students had many questions and engaged in deep conversation with Kiera. They left with the understanding that it isn’t always easy to parent at a young age.”

kiera at tree street Here’s Kiera presenting her Passages Project, entitled A Mother’s Message, at Tree Street Youth. You can read more about Kiera’s Passage here: Kiera’s Passage

And now, after completing her 24 core requirements and her final Passage, Kiera received her diploma earlier this month!

stephanie and kiera Kiera receiving her diploma from her teacher, Stephanie Whiting

Here’s what Stephanie had to say about the big day:

“I began working with Kiera in the fall of 2012. Over the past two years, I have had the great pleasure of watching Kiera grow into a confident, responsible young woman. Instead of running away from a challenging situation, Kiera now figures out what steps she can take to overcome the difficulty and then faces the challenge head on!! What was most exciting about her Final Passage Presentation was to see that she, herself had recognized how much she had grown since beginning the program.

Kiera is a loving and dedicated mother. I am so proud of her. During her time in the Passages Program, she parented 2 young children and worked part time, while meeting with me consistently and completing her school -work. Kiera worked incredibly hard to complete the 24 core skills that our program requires as well as her Final Passage, despite many difficult situations arising in her personal life.  She will continue to be involved in the Passages Program in the future, by mentoring our students and serving as a role model for our other young parents.

Kiera had a full time job opportunity waiting for her upon graduating from our program and she plans to attend college in the near future. I have no doubts that she will succeed at whatever she puts her mind to.”

And here’s what Kiera had to say!:

“My experience in the Passages Program was wonderful. Even though I had some struggles here and there, I am definitely glad I got to be a part of it. My final Passage Project helped me to notice my potential, gave me strength to overcome my fears, and I learned how to stay focused and not give up when times get rough.

This program meant a lot to me because I don’t think I would have pushed myself if I were in public school. If it wasn’t for this program, I honestly don’t think I would have graduated with my diploma. Having two little kids and having to balance the other things that are important, is definitely hard. The teachers in the Passages Program work with you. Everything is at YOUR OWN pace, nothing has to be rushed, and you get one on one time with your teacher. That’s what I liked most about the program. I recommend this home visiting program to other young mothers because the program is great.”

Kiera is one of over 15 Passages students who will graduate this year. We hope you’ll join us for our full graduation ceremonies this spring!

Our Washington County Passages graduation will be: May 30th, 1 p.m., UMaine Machias
Our Midcoast Passages graduation will be:  June 6th, 2p.m., Rockland Unitarian Church 
Our Opportunity Farm Passages graduation will be: June 7th, 2p.m., Opportunity Farm 

In the meantime, please join us in congratulating our very first 2015 graduate, Kiera Satele!