Commencement Speaker Announcement: James Morton, President and CEO, YMCA of Greater Boston to Address SJP Students
Commencement Speaker Announcement: James Morton, President and CEO, YMCA of Greater Boston to Address SJP Students

James Morton, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Boston, will deliver the commencement address to Saint Joseph Prep Boston's Class of 2022 on June 2, 2022. SJP's baccalaureate mass and commencement will take place at St. Columbkille Church in Brighton, MA, and will be available to view via live streaming.

Mr. Morton has been an advocate and influencer of positive change in Boston and beyond through his work with the Greater Boston YMCA, which is America's first YMCA and one of the largest private social services providers in Massachusetts, offering programs and services that nurture the potential of every child and teen, supporting healthy living and well-being, and promoting social responsibility.

His impact on the community has not gone unrecognized. In 2022, Mr. Morton was honored with the Idealist Award by Social Capital Inc. He was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Boston by Boston Magazine in 2021 for his work providing remote learning support and feeding millions of children during the pandemic. He was also recognized as one of Boston's Power 50 in 2020 by the Boston Business Journal for his leadership during the COVID-19 health crisis.

The work of Mr. Morton and the YMCA of Greater Boston closely aligns with the mission of SJP and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston (CSJ). As a former educator in Springfield, MA Public Schools, Mr. Morton has a deep personal and professional connection to education. He was the keynote speaker for Founders' Day at Regis College, a fellow CSJ sponsored ministry. His moving remarks not only highlighted the values of the Sisters of St. Joseph but also explored how key relationships helped him overcome challenges he faced growing up.

Mr. Morton visited SJP on May 3rd in preparation for his commencement address. He visited classrooms and observed some Chapel Speeches, chatted with classroom teachers and administrators, engaged with our Robotics team, and participated in a roundtable discussion with a group of graduating seniors, some of whom are embarking on a month of service at Greater Boston YMCA branches for their Senior Service Projects. SJP's Senior Service Project is an initiative through which all 12th graders spend the month before graduating doing community service at a nonprofit of their choice. SJP students will volunteer at the Oak Square,  Roxbury, Waltham, and West Roxbury YMCA branches through this initiative.

Mr. Morton serves on numerous boards and committees. He is on the board of the Lynch Foundation and Rockland Trust Board of Directors. He is also on the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Boston After School and Beyond, My Brother's Keeper Advisory Board, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Community Advisory Board, among many others. 

Mr. Morton earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin, a Juris Doctorate from Northeastern University School of Law, and an Honorary Doctorate from Salem State University. 

The Saint Joseph Prep Boston community is honored to welcome James Morton as the 2022 commencement speaker. Live streaming information will be shared closer to June 2nd. 

 

James Morton learns about Saint Joseph Prep Boston's robotics team and STEAM program from SJP student Kristen Coleman '22 and STEAM Director Nia Gipson.

Members of Saint Joseph Prep Boston's Class of 2022 share their experiences with James Morton, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Boston, in a roundtable discussion. 

James Morton, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Boston, meets with Saint Joseph Prep Boston seniors embarking on their Senior Service Projects, some of whom will be volunteering at YMCA branches throughout Greater Boston. 

 

SJP commemorates Women's History Month with Shaumbia-Yandje Dibinga

In honor of Women's History Month, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Saint Joseph Prep Boston welcomed Shaumbia-Yandje Dibinga, Founding Artistic Director of OrigiNation Cultural Arts Center.

The week of March 8, 1980 was proclaimed to be National Women's History Week by President Jimmy Carter, citing that the "achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well." A handful of years later, Congress officially declared March as Women's History Month. Women's History Month is a time to celebrate all the women who have made a difference in our lives. 

In honor of Women's History Month, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Saint Joseph Prep Boston welcomed Shaumbia-Yandje Dibinga, Founding Artistic Director of OrigiNation Cultural Arts Center to speak to students, faculty, and staff. Shaumbia-Yandje Dibinga is a mother, a co-parent, a sister, a mentor, an author, and a plethora of other inspirational roles. Ms. Dibinga believes she has "a big heart and giving back makes her feel good." The origin of her helpful roots dates back to her parents who taught her that "once you give back, and someone else gives back, you've done your job." 

OrigiNation is a performing arts organization based in Roxbury, MA that has been serving youth for 30 years, since 1991. Their slogan of "Building a Nation of Empowered Youth Leaders– One Dancer at a Time." is the mission Ms. Dibinga seeks to accomplish with every student who comes across OrigiNation. OrigiNation is home to 4 youth dance companies, serves 400+ people in-house and has created an extensive network of over 10,000+ artists across the globe. 

SJP's DEI Coordinator, Mr. Ware, introduced Ms. Dibinga as truly "using her talent to make the world a better place." 

OrigiNation began as Shaumbia-Yandje Dibinga's way to give back to those in need "because [she] was born to do it and not because [she] is looking for something in return." OrigiNation encourages youth involved to lend a helping hand to those in need. "I believe in handling young people with love and care, but also sprinkling in discipline so [everyone] takes accountability for their actions," said Ms. Dibinga. 

Many of the youth at OrigiNation come from disadvantaged communities. Ms. Dibinga's goal was to create a space for youth to be able to see their full potential. OrigiNation has quickly become a home for many which Ms. Dibinga invites with open arms. 

OrigiNation brings students overseas to perform community service, teach free classes and learn about other cultures. They have organized soup kitchens in Ghana, worked with orphanages in Jamaica, given out hygiene and school supplies to girls in juvenile detention facilities and group homes in Trinidad and Tobago, have visited London, Senegal and a wide range of other areas. "These tours have allowed our young people to step outside of their boxes, see the world and create life changing experiences," Ms. Dibinga explained. 

"I believe creative youth development is crucial in the lives of young people today more than ever," Ms. Dibinga said. She emphasized the importance of arts in our day to day lives, and how  OrigiNation fosters that creativity.

"[OrigiNation] helps our young people get jobs, we train them on how to teach and dance. We support them when they audition to get into professional companies like the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. [...] Our alumni are performing and choreographing on Black Girls Rock, dancing for Kendrick Lamar in the Superbowl, working with J-Lo, Taylor Swift, Cardi B, and Lizzo," she proudly listed among the accomplishments of OrigiNation participants. 

Other members of OrigiNation are teachers, business owners, flight attendants, lawyers, doctors, moms, dads, choreographers, consultants and so much more, just to name a few roles. Youth participants as young as 7 years old have organized peaceful protests in Boston, as well as planned meetings with the Boston Police Department to discuss subjects such as police brutality.

What comes out of OrigiNation's small studio in Forest Hills is something "larger than life," professed Ms. Dibinga. 

"Being a Black woman and running a non-profit business is a tough assignment. There are many things that could've made me quit and had me focus on my arts career, but watching them receive awards, the children that stand up to their bullies at school and come running to the studio to tell us they did it, or the student that gets out of their shell and pursues their dream of getting the lead role in a play at school– these are some of the things that make me coming back for more," Ms. Dibinga explained. OrigiNation has gone farther than she could have imagined.

"I'm still at the bottom of the list when it comes to getting funding and grants because I'm a Black woman. Does this annoy me? Absolutely. Does it get on my last nerve? It sure does. Will it make me quit or make me give my students less than or less of me?," Ms. Dibinga promised it certainly would not. She shared that she will not give up, "I will never quit. I will always do what's in the best interest of my students. I'll do it as long as I possibly can."

She reminds students that "they were born a genius, it just depends on what you do with that." The importance of arts lives deeply at OrigiNation, building bold leaders through their programs. 

Ms. Dibinga wants the next generation to be the change in the world. "If you know better, do better. As corny as it may sound, be the change you want to see," she encouraged SJP's student body. "Don't forget people will remember how you made them feel. Walk in your grace," Ms. Dibinga reminded our youth at SJP, who reacted with thunderous applause and even some in standing ovation. Students were eager to greet Ms. Dibinga at the conclusion of her inspirational and energizing talk. 

"Help each other because that's what we're supposed to do. Bow down to no one. Spread as much love as you possibly can. Do you." – Shaumbia-Yandje Dibinga