Keegan Wright, a 2015 graduate of City High and WMCAT, wrote the following piece as an assignment in her honors communication class at Ferris State University. The assignment was to make a ceremonial speech and she decided to write an awards presentation to WMCAT! 

Award to WMCAT by Keegan Wright

Today, I would like to take a moment to give recognition to an amazing after school program, The West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology (also known as WMCAT), a place where students learn how to get involved with their community, find support, embrace traveling opportunities, and learn new skills. In my hands, I hold an award, not just any award, an award for pure dedication, and passion. I would like to present this award to the WMCAT staff, whose zeal, is unreal.

The staff running this program put students first, they are such an amazing support system, making sure that students are ready for the college transition, holding informative meetings on FAFSA, and having students report back to them when they are in the process of applying for college. They really do put students first, I can recall on a few occasions, after classes, I had been walking around the building, and I walked past a teacher, who was having a deep conversation with a co-worker. And to my surprise, as soon as she saw me, she stopped, mid-conversation, and said hello, and asked me how I was doing. This moment that she stopped, I could tell that she genuinely wanted know how I was doing. All of the staff carries this genuine concern for students. It’s this genuine love that they give, that makes you feel important, and confident in yourself, because from the day you walk in, these adults never lose their confidence in you. I remember when I was going through the loss of a family member, and the loss of a neighbor and a WMCAT staff member took me aside to talk. Taking the time to sit and listen as I spewed my emotions out. I cannot thank them enough times for the support they have given me through preparing for college, and getting through life challenges.

WMCAT’s love and support, goes beyond the classroom, affecting not only the students, but the community as well. Each class had a goal to focus their projects on, and these goals were aimed at making a difference in the community. The ceramics class focused on bringing awareness to drug overdose with one of their projects that was a ceramic skull made up of pills and cigarettes. The photography class I was in focused on diversity with the goal of showing people the beauty in everyone. We took photos of different intriguing people, and interviewed them on their experiences on discrimination. The street art class painted downtown utility boxes with patterns and pictures of influential minorities throughout history, including Frida Kahlo, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Jimi Hendrix, and Maya Angelou.

“Woman in the Making” by Keegen Wright. Winner of a Silver Key at the Regional Scholastic Art and Writing Awards 2015.

Because WMCAT cares so much about students, it has different opportunities for students to be exposed to the world. Holding sum

mer jobs for students, internships in screen printing for alumni, bringing students to talk to successful business people, and taking students to visit colleges. One of the opportunities at WMCAT that I was fortunate enough to be apart of, was getting to visit New York City and Yellowstone in the same summer, expense free. I am so thankful for not only being able to go for free, but also being able to travel to places I never imagined I’d get to visit. This traveling experience exposed me to the crazy beauty of nature, and hiking, as well as the thrill of being in the middle of the rush of the big city. This exposure has given me the courage to travel, and it also gave me the courage to move away from home, and live on campus, here at Ferris State University.  

WMCAT helps students network, get involved with their community, and see the world on a bigger scale. They want students to realize that they aren’t confined to the lives that they grew up in, or the roles that are expected of them, and that they don’t have to follow their parents’ footsteps. WMCAT truly taught me that there is more to the world than just Michigan, and their support has given me such confidence in who I am, and what I can accomplish. Their support has helped me work up the guts to go explore the opportunities that the world has to offer.