Executive Preparatory Academy of Finance (EPAF), a nonprofit public charter high school in Los Angeles celebrated its inaugural commencement ceremony on June 2nd for their first class of 33 graduating seniors. The special event was held atop the Marriott in Marina del Rey overlooking Los Angeles and the California coastline. In celebration of their incredible achievements, students were surprised with a special congratulatory video tribute from some of their favorite celebrities including actors Jamie Foxx, Mike Epps and Morris Chestnut, along with former NBA star and education advocate Jalen Rose.
The entire class of 2017 Executive Prep graduates have been accepted to some of the top four-year universities and colleges in the country, including San Francisco State, CSU Northridge, Virginia State University, UC Santa Barbara, Spelman University and Azusa Pacific University among others. Counselors helped with early planning advice to guide students through the complicated application processes. Responsible student preparation along with scholarships, fundraising, student financial-aid programs and some corporate and private donations have made it possible for these students to continue their higher education.
CEO and founder of Executive Prep, Mr. Omar McGee, explained his reasons for launching the non-profit public charter high school: “My whole plan was to create an educational program that maintains a supportive environment for students throughout their high school careers. With mutual trust and respect from students and their parents, we were able to create a program that allowed them to take responsibility of their own lives and define what they wanted their futures to look like. And by bringing local community partnerships and corporate sponsors together with common goals, we have more resources to offer students than they would have normally. Together we created a winning plan for our students,” proudly boasted Mr. McGee.
“From the beginning Mr. McGee was always pushing us to accept new challenges and really focus on what we wanted our future lives to be like. Without having big dreams and goals, you can’t make a successful plan to reach them,” explains Isaiah Paysinger, who was awarded a full ride to Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Most students from this graduating class will be the first in their families to finish high school. For almost all of them, attending college wasn’t even a consideration before attending Executive Prep. The school’s focus on financial literacy has also taught crucial money management and life skills to better prepare students for the future. The combined tactics have led to the ultimate goal of closing the achievement gap and disrupting the cycle of excessive inner-city high school drop-outs rates while increasing higher education.
Although Executive Prep serves an all-minority low-income student population, with most falling below the poverty line, the supportive environment of teachers and staff, along with access and opportunity have proven to be the difference maker for the students. “Today has been very emotional for me,” says Mr. McGee. “These students have become like my own kids. I know each and every one of them and have seen them grow into responsible young adults. I wanted to give them a reason to believe in themselves and accomplish their dreams…and they’re doing just that.”