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spotlight on honoring our alumni

Earlier this month at the annual Rocking the Boathouse gala, Rocking the Boat proudly presented the Pete and Toshi Seeger Alumni Award to three outstanding young people. All, coincidentally, were boatbuilders: Caroline Gonzalez class of 2008, Michael Cruz class of 2017, and Andrea Silva Gonzalez class of 2015. For those not in Central Park with us that night, we invite you watch this short clip of their speeches, and read excerpts from their bios below.

andrea silva gonzalez
“I boast about the program, I always tell everyone that I meet I used to build rowboats."

Today she is a Registered Nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital, but during all four years attending Aquinas High School, from 2011 to 2015, Andrea Silva Gonzalez was a Rocking the Boat Boatbuilding student. Rocking the Boat offered multiple levels of support, from helping her and her family navigate the DACA program, facilitating her application to Hunter College, where she both earned her Bachelor’s degree in Human Biology and completed an accelerated nursing program, to helping her assemble the building blocks for her career. Seven years after leaving Rocking the Boat, Andrea sees how influential the program was on her growth and development. “One time, our boat turned over. A bunch of us were in the water! We had to work together to get back in the boat. It all carries over. You have to really have great communication with your team, or you’re never going to get out of the water.”

michael cruz
“Everyone gives back at Rocking the Boat, it inspired me to give a lending hand.”

Michael Cruz graduated Summa Cum Laude from Manhattanville College with a degree in Political Science and has just completed his first year at St. John’s University School of Law. Michael has balanced focus on his education with community service. He has mentored local high school students, tutored Manhattanville freshmen, and served as Vice President for his school's National Society of Leadership and Success Chapter. Michael was drawn to the unique, hands-on experience Rocking the Boat offered, and relished working in the shop despite living with the vision loss resulting from Aniridia (lack of iris). He stayed in the Boatbuilding Program for nearly three years from 2015 to 2017, forming close relationships that continue today. He looks forward to giving back by signing on as a Rocking the Boat peer mentor.

caroline gonzalez
“I have more positivity within me, it makes me feel unstoppable.”

Caroline Gonzalez absolutely lights up when you ask her about becoming an educator, her calling as she puts it. She is currently juggling a full-time position as a paraprofessional at DeWitt Clinton High School, a second job with New York Edge afterschool program, a role as a Rocking the Boat alumni mentor, and online coursework to complete her Bachelor’s in English Language and Literature at Southern New Hampshire University. Her mind is made up: she is going to build her own school, possibly overseas after the solid year she spent traveling the world. “Everything is ‘yes, yes, yes’ at Rocking the Boat!” Caroline recalls of her four years in the Boatbuilding Program from 2004 to 2008, which included being a member of the first class of Boatbuilding apprentices, and a fifth year as a Program Assistant in 2011.

kids don’t just build boats, boats build kids

rocking the boat
812 edgewater road
bronx, ny 10474
phone: 718.466.5799
fax: 718.466.2892

Rocking the Boat is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Download Form 990.