A Graduation Like No Other!

Written by Cathy Heeley

October is always a special month at Aidha as we celebrate the graduation of our students from Modules 2 and 3. These students have completed at least 12 months of financial education at Aidha and worked hard to complete their own personal financial plans and business plans. 

For over a decade Aidha has held a formal ceremony in a concert hall with an audience, special guests, presentations, dancing and lots of hugs. But that wouldn’t be possible this year. 

How could we make Graduation Day a truly special occasion to reflect the fantastic achievements of our students in challenging times, an event to celebrate their learning journey and encourage and inspire them for the future?

Usually, we have over 120 graduates but due to the disruption to the normal class schedule, we had 52 graduates, with more than half having completing their classes online. A remarkable feat in this disrupted year!   And in such a year, we needed a really remarkable event to celebrate our graduates’ achievements. 

First of its kind

Graduates told us what was important to them and we decided to tap the extraordinary skills and enthusiasm of our students and volunteers and trainees. The Aidha community rallied to help us plan and execute an event full of meaning and joy.

As the day approached, mentors of the graduating batches worked with graduates to create short presentations of their own which we would air at the ceremony instead of having a guest speaker. This was a lovely way to showcase both the creativity of our students and the confidence and speaking skills they have built during their coursework at Aidha. The results were amazing! We really enjoyed watching them at the ceremony. 

On the day, 25 October, our amazing MC Ting Claravall stepped up again. Ting stitched the proceedings together for us expertly! 40 graduates joined us live using the Zoom link and we had more than 70 viewers watching our Live-streamed event on our Facebook page (you can still watch the recording on our page if you missed it!)

A very special graduating class

In her welcome address, Aidha’s CEO Jacqueline Loh praised 2020 graduates for completing their courses despite the additional challenges they faced this year. Our graduates, as well as Aidha staff and mentors, displayed their extraordinary resilience this year and dug deep to find ways to keep going with learning and classes despite the pandemic.

Jackie’s theme was resilience, a theme that was echoed later in the ceremony.

Graduation photos are an important element of graduation for students and their families and friends, and we’d organised formal graduation photoshoots to ensure our 2020 graduates didn’t miss out. On the day, instead of standing on stage, our graduates were presented one by one – clad in graduation robes and beaming with pride in their graduation photos – in a ‘virtual procession’. 

A special virtual graduation procession for all our graduates!

Special messages of congratulations came from H.E. Joseph Del Mar Yap, the Ambassador of the Republic of the Philippines, as well as Claudine Lim, Aidha’s Chair and mentors of the graduating batches. Our ceremony often ends with an uplifting dance led by Sari Marden, Aidha supporter and coach, boosting the sense of what our graduates can now go on to achieve. Whilst this year we couldn’t dance together,  Sari promised the graduates we will dance together again. Her parting message echoed with us all:  “Keep On Shining!”

And shining the limelight on our graduates, we created a Virtual Yearbook, collating our graduates’ favourite memories at Aidha and their sources of inspiration. You can get to know our graduates and get inspired by their words here.

Once again, our heartiest congratulations to Aidha’s extraordinary Graduating Class of 2020. The happy faces of our graduates will be a memory we all treasure in an otherwise whirlwind of a year!

Thank you!

Big thanks to our volunteers and mentors who stepped up and made this year’s ceremony memorable:

Graduation Core Volunteers: Cathy, Ting, Ela, Ankur and everyone else who helped! 

Mentors of Graduating Classes: Josephine, Noel, Michele, Lucas, Bhumika, Lisa, Tina, Niky and Lluis.  

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