Virtual graduations have been all the rage— and the only option— during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, and it was no different at P-TECH Carver in Baltimore.
“The virtual graduation the district hosted was okay, but nothing compares to in-person graduation,” said Jai’Marri Moulden, who graduated with both his diploma and an associate’s degree in cybersecurity in just four years. “I was expecting to walk across the stage having the feeling of completion, but now I have to turn something that’s abnormal into something positive. I’m not the first of my siblings to graduate high school, but I can definitely say I was the first in my family to graduate virtually.”
Moulden plans to attend McDaniel College in the fall— virtually or in the brick and mortar building— to study computer science.
“My expectations in going to McDaniel College are to, of course, have in-person classes and just to have things revert to some sense of normalcy so that I can enjoy my college experience,” the new graduate stated.
He said he is grateful for the experience at P-TECH, which is a unique program where students have the opportunity to earn both a high school diploma and no-cost associate degree in fast-growing STEM fields.
P-TECH Baltimore in Carver Vocational-Technical High School serves 138 students who complete the blended high school and community college coursework in four to six years.
Moulden counted among 29 students to graduate this year— 12 of whom received an associate’s degree and a high school diploma simultaneously.
Moulden also received the honor of speaking at IBM’s virtual graduation celebration for all P-TECH graduates on June 24, 2020.
He noted the challenges of virtual school during the pandemic.
“I’ve always been a person who’s had to overcome many adversities, so overcoming this pandemic and still graduate
wasn’t new to me,” Moulden said. “Of course, it was difficult, but I believed in myself and used my circumstances as motivation instead of being complacent. My biggest challenge may have been my time management because I had so much, yet so little, time on my hands. It was very easy to fall behind, so I had to make sure I was where I needed to be.”
He called his field of choice— cybersecurity— interesting and exciting.
“Being able to stop cybercrimes with cybersecurity excites me. I’m very
excited about the future, and I just know that I’m going to be very successful, and I want to have my own business and give back to my community,” Moulden said.
The graduate also offered thoughts on future P-TECH students.
“I want the future P-TECH grads to know that life isn’t easy, and you shouldn’t expect it to be,” Moulden said. “Know that you are in control of your own actions and stay hungry for success. Never forget where you come from so that you can help your community and bring success to the world.”