Adult College Engagement (ACE) Interview
NCTN partners with adult education, workforce, community organizations, and college systems from across the country to incubate and pilot innovations in policy, provide technical assistance, and promote professional development.
About the Project
Part of NCTN’s Access to Opportunity project, ACE increased persistence and success of the adult learners who participated in this promising peer mentoring model. In addition to supporting the mentees, the project refined a replicable, scalable model for peer mentoring for adult education programs to customize for their learners.
Vania Estanek is an ESOL and Bridge to College program graduate from the Cambridge Community Learning Center (CLC). After graduating from CLC in 2010, she went on to work towards her Associate’s degree in the biotechnology field. At Middlesex Community College, Vania has continued as an exceptional student, working as an unpaid teaching assistant. She is now in her final year of study. She is excited to be a mentor and happy to give back as CLC has been such a force for success in her life.
Guerda Fevrier, an immigrant from Haiti, just finished her high school diploma and has enrolled in the Bunker Hill Community College to pursue a certification in Human Services. Guerda started her classes in September and says going to college has been a lifelong dream, and she wants to set an example for her teenage daughter.
What was the biggest challenge for you when you returned to school?
Guerda: College is tough but it is a great opportunity to do better. I’m taking four classes this semester with the support of a scholarship. Keeping good grades so I can have a scholarship inspires me to seek out the help I need for my work. In college, there are so many opportunities to get the help you need, but you need to look for it.
Vania: It’s true. In college, we are able to learn from one another. We all want to succeed, so one person lends a helping hand to another person, and the chain continues.”
Can you tell me about how you got involved with World Education and the Adult College Engagement (ACE) program?
Guerda: I began getting support from World Education’s US Program while I was studying to get my GED. Then, World Education offered me an internship to help in their Boston office for 16 weeks. I learned technology skills, how to use all of the office equipment, planning and organization, and how the office runs. What I like best about World Education is that they are not just focused on getting you through school. They help you better your whole mind.
Vania: I began going back to school through a scholarship with the Cambridge Community Learning Center at the Harvard Extension School. Now, I am only three credits away from getting my associate’s degree from Middlesex Community College. It’s taken me eight years to get here while working full-time, but I keep working at it, little by little. The Community Center programs make such a difference because it helps to have people who care about you and are rooting for you to succeed. They are mentors to all of us.
Guerda: The same is true for me; I keep working little by little. It took me three years to earn my GED. But no matter what, I go to class every single day. On days when I was sick or felt like giving up, I still went to class.
What motivates you to continue in school?
Guerda: I love being in school. I know I can be something better and provide something better for my children and my grandson. I keep trying no matter what because I know I can succeed and I know a degree can help me get a good job. I’m proud to be a role model for my daughter. Now every night, we do our homework side by side. I am the proudest when my grandson asks me to help him with his homework. My family inspires me to go forward because I know they believe I can do anything and they are proud of me for working so hard.
Vania: My family inspires me. I love showing my 11 year old granddaughter that no matter what your age or challenge in life, you can do everything that you want to do. I also like helping other students; that is why I became a mentor. I always speak to the other students in my program and tell them not to give up. If I can do it, they can do it.
Why do you feel education is important?
Guerda: I need this degree to get a good job. With a good job I can have more freedom to provide a better situation for my family. There have been many times when I was tired and wanted to give up or even take fewer classes, but I’m persistent. My daughter is 16 and will be going to college soon. My other children are grown. It’s my time now. I’m so glad I have the courage to go back and keep working toward my degree.
Vania: I have hands-on experience from my many years of working hard at my job. I am always doing both, learning at school and learning at work. But working in the biotechnology field, I know that if I want to move forward with my job, my degree is important.
For more information about Adult College Engagement, contact Priyanka Sharma at firstname.lastname@example.org.