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 2023-2024 Scholars

Shermin

Shermin

From humble beginnings in Bangladesh, Shermin nurtured her love for art and learning amidst challenges. Marriage and motherhood brought many...

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Luis

Luis

Luis is from Nicaragua. In 2018, his life took a drastic turn. He was studying industrial engineering at the Engineering University of Nicaragua...

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Shermin

Josephine

Josephine moved to the U.S. with dreams of furthering her education. When she arrived, she was met with financial challenges that forced her to put...

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Jorge

Jorge

Jorge is from El Salvador. After finishing high school, he joined a Roman Catholic seminary for four years before seeking a new path in pursuit of...

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Shermin

Ana

Growing up in a challenging environment in Colombia, Ana found inspiration in her mother's strength. Her mother worked hard to put food on the table...

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Dania

Dania

Dania is the first in her family to attend college. Both her mother and father are unable to read and write so going to college has always been a...

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Shermin

Luggens

Born and raised in Haiti, Luggens was taught at a young age to tackle challenges head-on. When Luggens arrived in the U.S. he faced language...

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Cristhian

Cristhian

Cristhian's life has been marked by challenges and sacrifices. Despite the tragic murder of his father at a young age, he stepped up to support his...

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Lorena

Lorena

As a first-generation college student in Colombia, Lorena discovered her calling in psychology and witnessed the need for accessible mental health...

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Bintou

Bintou

Bintou is from a small town in Africa’s Ivory Coast. For girls in her family going to school was unheard of. Her father believed school was designed...

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Shermin

Rodieka

Rodieka grew up in Jamacia. As the oldest of four siblings raised by a single mother, life was not easy growing up, but her mother's teachings about...

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Kayla

Kayla

Kayla dropped out of high school when she was in twelfth grade. She was pregnant and just a few classes short of the graduation requirements. Her...

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Michaela

Michaela

Michaela has faced many hardships throughout her life, including an abusive relationship and homelessness. Through these difficult times Michaela...

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Joshalyn

Joshalyn

Joshalyn's life is a testament to strength and determination. Despite a challenging upbringing and adversity at every turn, she refused to become a...

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Natalie

Natalie

As a child Natalie struggled in school due to bullying from both students and teachers. Eventually the bullying got to be too much, so she resorted...

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Zhongwei

Zhongwei

Zhongwei is from China and the first in his family to attend college. When he arrived in the U.S. he faced a severe illness that depleted his...

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Lelsy

Lelsy

Lesly's journey is one of courage, determination, and compassion. From serving as a police officer in his native country to immigrating to the...

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Shermin

Christele

Christele packed her bags and traveled from Haiti to the United States with the intention of staying for 2 weeks. She came to the U.S. to get away...

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Nicole

Nicole

Nicole was a journalist in her home country of Haiti for 20 years. She was forced to leave Haiti because of volatile political situations bearing...

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Dihelin

Dihelin

Dihelin is from the West African country of Togo, where she studied sociology at the University of Togo before moving to the United States. She left...

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Bushrah

Bushrah

​Bushrah was born in Uganda. She is the oldest of five siblings and the first in her family to attend college. Her time in the U.S. has not been...

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Anny

Anny

Anny lost her mother to cancer when she was just 13 years old. Growing up with her father and three brothers she learned to be strong, grateful, and...

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Hajarah

Hajarah

As a 20-year old graduate in Uganda with a bachelor's degree in Accounting, Hajarah was gaining the confidence to make decisions for herself rather...

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Juan

Juan

Juan immigrated to the U.S. in search of a better life for both himself and his parents. For much of his life he has struggled with a medical...

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Fougere

Fougere

Fougere was born in Haiti and immigrated to the U.S. to seek a better life for himself and his family. When Fougere moved to the U.S. he faced a...

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Kevin

Kevin

Kevin grew up in the Dominican Republic with his mom and siblings while his father worked in the U.S. As a child, he suffered from asthma and spent...

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Sonia

Sonia

Sonia is the youngest of nine children born in a small town in Brazil. When she was a child her father and his uncle were killed by a drunk driver....

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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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Shermin

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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Valentina

Valentina

Valentina came to the United States from Colombia. When she arrived the language was foreign, the culture unknown, and the environment vastly...

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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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Shermin

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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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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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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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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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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