by Ayvaunn Penn, Your Black World
“I stand before you today a changed man. Use me as an example at how to become an instrument of change … you can do it as well.” These were among the words cheered as Michael Vick delivered the commencement speech for 450 students graduating from Camelot — a network of 6 alternative high schools for Philadelphia youth with emotional, disciplinary, or academic problems. The ceremony took place at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center on Friday.
After spending 18 months in jail for dog fighting, the Philadelphia Eagles football star quite appropriately shared his testimony on how he recovered from failure and used his second chance to turn his life around. He also warned students about the negative consequences of arrogance and the loses he suffered for his unwise decisions. Vick shared, “I had all the fame and fortune; I thought I was unstoppable…[but] I lost my freedom, I lost my money, [and] I lost my family.” One of the steps Vick is taking to make the most of his second chance includes speaking against animal cruelty at schools and with community groups.
Having Vick present at their graduation was quite a treat for these Philadelphia students, but there were two special students who got an extra dose of excitement. Graduates Monique Joseph and Rickey Savage recieved $5,000 scholarships from Vick during the ceremony. According to reports from the Associated Press, “Joseph plans to attend Penn State in the fall while Savage will go to Virginia Union University in Richmond, Va. Neither the students nor their families — not even school staff — knew they would be receiving the funds.”
Ayvaunn Penn is a spoken word artist and an award winning writer completing her degree in English and philosophy. For more of her witty-word works click here. To have your original poetry featured by Ms. Penn on Your Black Poets, click here.