graphic of graduates. Two MWA graduates on the left and one CAP graduate on the right.
From left to right: MWA graduates Kayla B. and Kyla B.; Jerry L., graduate of UCLA
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A Year to Remember – And Celebrate

by Marilyn Harris

Nearly 100 students, the largest ever class to graduate from Making Waves Academy (MWA), celebrated their achievements at a drive-thru commencement ceremony, with diplomas presented on a traditional stage and photo opportunities with school leaders and board members provided.

Image of Johanna F., Valedictorian and recipient of the Tsunami Award with her diploma
Johanna F., Valedictorian and recipient of the Tsunami Award

“This class has shown enormous perseverance, resilience, and fortitude,” said Senior School Director Dr. Evangelia Ward-Jackson, “Our Wave-Makers have worked diligently to achieve their goals, and they have persisted, in excellence, despite competing distractions and the impacts of this unprecedented school year. I honor our Wave-Makers, and I celebrate their success, knowing full well that they will continue to make us all so very proud.” 

We congratulate Valedictorians Benjamin Sanchez and Johanna Figueroa, headed this fall to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and UC Berkeley, respectively. Also heading to UC Berkeley is graduate Gabriel Arteaga, who made us proud with perfect attendance for all eight years of our program, the first student to do so in our history.

 In a year made especially challenging by the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the Class of 2021, the 7th graduating class since our founding achieved truly remarkable outcomes. College admission rates continued the Academy’s six-year upward trend across different institution types. And based on commitment data, this class is expected to have the highest number of graduates completing college in the history of the school.

The resilience shown by our Wave-Makers and the commitment to their academic achievement, mental health, and socio-emotional growth demonstrated by our faculty, staff, and school leadership consistently inspired me throughout this difficut school year.

alicia klein
board president

Fully 70 percent of the class will be continuing on to four-year colleges. All but five Wave-Makers will be staying in state for their higher education, with 23 heading to California State Universities and 34 to UC campuses – 13  to UC Berkeley alone and four more to UCLA. Of the 17 percent heading to community colleges, one will follow in his father’s footsteps by learning welding technology at Laney College.

The altered landscape wrought by COVID led to more members of the class, 13 percent, moving straight to the workforce, including one student who has started his own media company and another who will work at her family’s new pop-up restaurant in San Francisco.

Benjamin S., Valedictorian in graduate regalia and holding a diploma.
Benjamin S., Valedictorian

“The resilience shown by our Wave-Makers and the commitment to their academic achievement, mental health, and socio-emotional growth demonstrated by our faculty, staff, and school leadership consistently inspired me throughout this difficult year,” said Alicia Malet Klein, MWA’s board president. “I have no doubt that our graduates will move forward with the skills and fortitude that will position them well to achieve their life dreams.”  

Alton B. Nelson Jr., CEO, added, “The success of our students is all the more amazing during a time of such challenge and social isolation. The fact that our students are moving forward, with hope and excitement for the future, at levels consistent with the high level of achievement that has been set by preceding senior classes is not only amazing but inspiring. As is the Making Waves tradition, I look forward to seeing this senior class not only find success in college and the workforce, but also in the ways they will ‘recycle their success’ in their respective communities in the near future.”

This class has shown enormous perseverance, resilience, and fortitude.

Dr. evangelia ward-jackson
senior school director

Founders John H. and Regina K. Scully shared their thoughts in a recorded message to graduates, “During your last year at Making Waves, you have succeeded through remote learning and a rigorous course of study to ultimately reach your graduation. We are so proud of you! You will be remembered as an extraordinary class that succeeded in all ways despite having to overcome all the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

More than 100 – CAP’s newest college graduates pursue diverse career paths

CAP, a college success program of Making Waves Foundation, celebrated the focus and perseverance of its 108 new college graduates. The CAP Class of 2021 were honored at the CAP Grad Gala, held virtually just last week.

“In a very difficult year with many challenges, our Wave-Makers persisted to graduation,” said Melissa Fries, executive director of CAP. “With a focus on their goals and a determination to recycle their success, they did not let anything deter them from earning their degrees. I continue to be inspired by our students’ resilience, fortitude and achievements. Graduation is always a time of celebration and joy, and this year we could not be prouder of our graduates.” 

I continue to be inspired by our students’ resilience, fortitude, and achievements.

melissa fries
cap executive director

Officially receiving their degrees between now and the end of the summer, roughly a third of the class has already made plans for post-graduate life, either finding employment or moving on to graduate study.

Of the 108 students, 62 attended UC schools– including 24 at Cal Berkeley and four at UCLA – while 31 went to Cal State campuses. Of 11 students who went to private or out-of-state institutions, three can display a Harvard, Duke, or Stanford degree and one a Boston College plaque. Among other schools represented were Texas A&M, Pitzer, and USC.

Picture of Lakaylah M. putting up her sorority symbol in a grad cap and gown.
Lakaylah M., graduate of Grambling State University

Most of the grads are heading to STEM fields, including IT support at a major financial institution, operations at a popular social media app, software engineering, quality engineering, university lab management, and chemical engineering doctoral studies. Others have chosen to work at nonprofits, including one that supports college students from backgrounds like their own. Another will enter a rotational management program at a farm equipment manufacturer.

“We are so thrilled for all our CAP graduates,” said Patrick O’Donnell, MWF’s CEO. “This year tested all of us, and our graduates dug deep, leaned on and supported their community, and stayed focus on their goals – they’ve accomplished so much, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.”