Scholar Stories

First Literacy Scholars are united by their commitment to relentlessly pursuing their goals and creating opportunities for themselves, their families, and their communities. Our scholars come from around the world, from Massachusetts to Sierra Leone, and each of them has overcome significant obstacles to get to where they are today. We are proud to support these scholars as they work to change the narrative of what adult literacy looks like. The scholars listed below have been generous enough to share their stories with us. If you are looking for a full list of all recent scholars, please visit our Scholar Page.

First Literacy 2021-2022 Scholars

Jocelyne

Jocelyne

Jocelyne left her family and small village in Haiti at 13 and found work in the US as a babysitter. She learned English and eventually earned her...

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Maria

Maria

In 1999 Maria completed her bachelor’s degree at the University of Unicerp in Patrocinio, Brazil. During college and after graduation she worked as...

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Viktorija

Viktorija

Viktorija moved to the United States from Latvia and attended high school in a small town outside of Boston. At the age of 18 she moved away from a...

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Marie

Marie

Marie moved to the United States from Haiti with her two daughters in 2016. She moved to the United States with the hope of providing her family...

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Valentina

Valentina

Valentina is originally from Columbia. As one of six children she grew up with limited opportunities. Her parents did not attend school and often...

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Qiaomin

Qiaomin

Qiaomin is from China, where she attended college before moving to the U.S. in 2019. During the coronavirus pandemic, Qiaomin lost her part-time job...

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Hanae

Hanae

Hanae came to the United States in 2016 when she got married. She studied French and graduated with a specialty in Hospitality Management from the...

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Christian

Christian

Christian grew up in a single parent household that struggled to make ends meet and was plagued with alcoholism. With the help of public aid,...

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Viktorija

Khadija

From Casablanca, Morocco, Khadija came to the United States in 2016 looking for better opportunities. She was a star student throughout all her...

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Doris

Doris

Doris is from the Central American country of Guatemala. She arrived in the United States when she was just 15 years old. She didn’t speak any...

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Kherrina

Kherrina

Kherrina is from Kingston, Jamaica – a city known for it’s vibrant night life and severe economic hardship. Her childhood was not easy. She grew up...

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Mark

Mark

When Mark suddenly lost his father in July of 2020, his life was turned upside down. He grew up watching his father work hard every day, and wanted...

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Diana

Diana

Diana is from the Dominican Republic where much of the country lives in poverty. She is the first in her family to move to the United States looking...

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Brima

Brima

Brima is from Sierra Leone, West Africa – a country that has experienced an 11-year civil war, an Ebola virus epidemic, mudslides, flooding,...

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Yves

Yves

Yves came to the United States from Haiti in 2015. After witnessing the disastrous 2010 earthquake she realized she wanted to be a nurse and made...

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Lilian

Lilian

Lilian came to the United States with her husband and two children to get away from violence that disrupted her family in Brazil. Her first year in...

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Katia

Katia

In 2005 Katia immigrated to the United States from Brazil. She came to the U.S. in order to receive the training and financial backing necessary to...

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Karen

Karen

When Karen came to the United States from Columbia, she knew that to succeed and understand this new culture she needed to learn the language. Karen...

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Damus

Damus

Damus came to Boston eight years ago when the United States welcomed victims of Haiti’s magnitude 7.2 earthquake in 2010. She stayed with friends,...

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Julia

Julia

Julia was born and raised in East Boston. With an unconventional upbringing, she and her younger sisters did not attend school or see doctors....

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Gabriela

Gabriela

Gabriela grew up in Venezuela with a love of books inspired by her mother. Outside of her studies she worked on social projects in Caracas, attended...

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Yane

Yane

Yane faced many challenges when she arrived in the United States in 2019. She needed to balance a full-time job, care for her young son, and...

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Joel

Joel

Joel came to the United States in 1999, in search of a better future. In his home country of Peru, he faced national unrest, economic depression,...

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Ariela

Ariela

Ariela moved from Cape Verde to Lisbon, Portugal with her single mother when she was fifteen. She struggled with the transition, dropped out of...

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Edith

Edith

The youngest of several children, 10-year-old Edith was sent to live with her grandparents who put her to work for the adults in the household...

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