As a mature group of small business owners, the 2021 EMC cohort is graduating after completing a two-year entrepreneurship training course. For some of them, this might be the first time they are receiving a graduation certificate, wearing graduation gowns, and formally receiving an award. I think the graduates are excited because this process and ceremony will improve their self-esteem. They will feel a sense of achievement and accomplishment. Additionally, with some of them, this will give them a feeling of heightened pride, dignity and prestige.

Personally, this feels like an important first step in the right direction for me because, over the last few years, I have been promoting and facilitating a skills & knowledge development program. There is a lasting skills gap prevalent among under-privileged small business owners, and witnessing these small business owners graduate in this space makes me feel like I have come a full circle. This first step will improve my communication skills and expand my networks in the academic sector. 

The graduation ceremony, while being important and life-changing for all of us, was also trying to stay afloat between multiple issues. While there were late attendees and technical glitches, it gave me a chance to engage with the audience and become a reassuring presence at this physical gathering. From this experience, I was also able to see my public speaking strengths in action and explore opportunities to grow my professional value as a potential board member or project manager within local associations.