Kyle Gathers delivers BFIT Commencement speech. May 2017.
A year ago, Kyle Gathers ‘17 never imagined he would stand before 700 distinguished faculty, students, friends and family, and deliver the student commencement speech at his BFIT college graduation. Kyle, a native of Grove Hall, went from spending 9 years in jail to becoming a poet, a Kraft Scholar, and a college graduate. This May, he earned a Certificate in Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning, and Refrigeration (HVAC&R) and will go on to a promising future in the HVAC&R industry.
Kyle has a poised and relaxed demeanor which he uses to tell his story— a tale of a bright, thoughtful young man who faced the challenges of a difficult environment, made a life-changing mistake, and with resilience and determination got himself back on the right track. Although his parents had always stressed the importance of a good education, the shooting of his sister (who survived) and the tragic loss of his brother to gun violence had a negative impact on his trajectory.
I keep my head high
chasing my vision from ambitious and resilient
and know if I stay the course, my spirit will follow.
(Excerpt from “Resilience” By Kyle Gathers)
Fear, trauma, and the wrong group of friends led him to engage in negative activity. His wake up call came when he was faced with 9 years of incarceration. It was his time away that was a catalyst for self-reflection, for a re-education, and for the rebirth of a new Kyle- “Professor K” as they would call him in jail.
Once Kyle returned home, he lost no time in rebuilding his life and becoming a better role model for his then 9 year old son. His first step was education. Knowing he wanted to work for himself and that he wanted technical skills and a job that couldn’t be outsourced-—he chose BFIT as his next step. College Bound Dorchester, a non-profit that prepares students for college, provided support and guidance to Kyle and helped him to enroll at BFIT.
BFIT provided an environment where Kyle’s intellectual curiosity and creativity could thrive. He was the first student to receive a paid internship with WGBH and for a year managed all of their HVAC needs working closely with the resident HVAC technician. BFIT’s Career Services Department provided Kyle with intensive professional development and his academic programs developed his hands on technical skills.
Recognizing his way with words, BFIT introduced Kyle to the Lewis Family Foundation (major funders of BFIT) and the Grand Circle Foundation to speak to young students about the impact of making the right life choices.
Kyle was also one of 20 Kraft Scholars- a BFIT scholarship program funded by New England Patriots Owner and Chairman and CEO of The Kraft Group, Robert Kraft. After visiting the school, Kraft, one of Boston’s most prominent business leaders saw the value in a BFIT education and decided to invest in the college.
Kyle’s story and courage is resonating with many and in the span of just a couple of weeks in the month of May, he was featured on WGBH’s Boston Public Radio, the Boston Globe, NECN, WBUR, and The New York Times.
After graduation, Kyle began networking and exploring his career options in the HVAC field. With the knowledge gained from BFIT, his potential will lead him to a path of success.