Class of 2023: Pace Center for Girls, Lee graduation ceremony celebrates seven Pace graduates

Pace Center for Girls, Lee recently celebrated the graduation of seven Pace students with a special ceremony at Broadway Palm in Fort Myers.

Surrounded by their families, friends, staff and fellow Pace girls, graduates Ayleah A., Brooke D., A’Llawna F., Destiny F., Terriana P., Lilyana R. and Shelby S. were honored during a graduation ceremony on June 5. The ceremony is a milestone achievement for the Pace girls, who have defied the odds to overcome various personal and academic trials in order to complete their education and graduate. Faced with tremendous obstacles in life, Pace comes alongside them to provide academic and counseling services to help them see their full potential in life.

Gemstones in the Making Founder Claribel Bocanegra delivered the commencement address with a special message for the Class of 2023 before girls took the stage to receive their diploma, followed by the tassel ceremony. During the ceremony, graduate Terriana was named as the first recipient awarded the Lynn Suzanne Spradley Brightest Star Scholarship by KindLee, a local nonprofit that focuses on acts of kindness to help children overcoming life challenges.

“We are thrilled to celebrate this remarkable milestone for our graduating class of Pace girls, who have overcome numerous obstacles along the way,” said Jennifer Cellitti, executive director of Pace Center for Girls, Lee. “We are so proud of all that they have accomplished to graduate, demonstrating the strength and courage that embodies the female spirit of Pace. We cannot wait to see the incredible things these young women will do next on their journey.”

Following graduation, Pace held a transition ceremony on June 6 for 16 girls who have completed the program. Alongside the seven graduates, the ceremony recognized nine students that will return to local public schools in the fall semester. After leaving Pace, the transition program provides continued support and services to help former Pace girls as they take the next steps on their journey.

Pace Lee provides girls and young women ages 11 to 18 an opportunity for a better future through education, counseling, training and advocacy. Programs are based on the belief that all girls and young women, regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, should be uniquely cared for, supported and encouraged to become the best versions of themselves through a path of healing and recovery.

Since its inception 16 years ago, Pace Lee has helped more than 1,000 at-promise girls and young women in Lee County find the path to success. After leaving Pace, 100% of students improved their academic performance, 96% had no involvement with the juvenile justice system within one year of exiting the program and 89% were either in school or gainfully employed.

To learn more about Pace Lee and its programs, please visit or call 239-425-2366.

About Pace Center for Girls, Lee
Pace Center for Girls, Lee, envisions a world where all girls and young women have power, in a just and equitable society. Founded in 1985, Pace provides free year-round middle and high school academics, case management, counseling, and life skills development in a safe and supportive environment that recognizes and deals with past trauma and builds upon girls’ individual strengths. Dedicated to meeting the social, emotional, and education needs of girls, Pace has a successful and proven program model that has changed the life trajectory of more than 40,000 girls and is recognized as one of the nation’s leading advocates for girls in need. For more information on Pace Center for Girls, Lee, call 239-425-2366 or visit
This article was submitted by a Guest Author of the Above Board Chamber.