One door closed and another opened recently for the 15 graduates of Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center, a nationally accredited non-profit education program for individuals with disabilities.
Bob Brown, Dana Butler, Kathleen Cassella, Casey Cincotta, Cody Clark, Alex Drago, Sarah Gabow, Danielle Garley, Max Gebert, Jason Jakubovic, Jackie McMahon, Kyle Palubicki, Lan Tagg, Matt Tarnell and Mickey Teubert graduated on July 10 in a ceremony held at Westbrook High School. Over 250 people attended the ceremony, including State Representative Noreen Kokoruda (R-101) and keynote speaker Lisa Mikis, former publisher of Shore Publishing in Madison.
Miksis, who came to know Vista and many of its students and members throughout her career with Shore Publishing, offered the graduates encouraging words of wisdom as they start the next chapters in their lives.
“You all worked hard to be sitting on this stage today. Be confident in what you have learned and achieved and in who you are,” said Miksis, now Vice President and Director of Marketing for Respond Systems. “As you step out into the world of tomorrow, know that all of your friends and family at Vista, and so many of us you meet out on the street in the community, are here to help you succeed.”
Graduation is a monumental occasion that acknowledges the achievements of Vista students who have reached a level of independence and, as a result, graduate from Vista’s Entrance Program— a residential post-secondary program.
Through the Entrance Program, students receive hands-on life skills instruction, vocational training, support and guidance, helping them develop the skills and behaviors needed for adulthood. The next step in their journeys involves living in their own homes or apartments within local communities in Vista’s service area as members of Vista’s Outreach Program.
“We’re so proud on the shoreline of these graduates,” said Kokoruda, whose district covers Madison and Durham. “Whenever I come to the Vista graduations, I know what real perseverance is with the families, with the friends, with the staff— but most importantly, with the graduates.”
In addition to a Vista Diploma, each graduate received a commendation certificate signed by Congressman Joe Courtney (D-2).
The graduation festivities ended with a reception at Chamard Vineyards in Clinton. There, each graduate received gift baskets complete with a cookbook and various housewarming items for their new homes or apartments.
Based in Madison and Westbrook, CT, Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center is a 501©3 nonprofit organization. Vista’s mission is to provide services and resources to assist individuals with disabilities achieve personal success.
For more information about Vista, visit www.vistavocational.org