Time To Turn the Tassel! First Literacy Scholars Graduate from Mount Wachusett Community College
Written by Julie Slack, First Literacy Marketing and Communications Director
Earning a college degree is no easy feat. There are often late nights cramming for an exam, weekends spent writing papers and for many First Literacy scholars there is the added stress of juggling work, family, and the challenges that come along with being an English language learner. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and unwavering determination and perseverance is essential to crossing the finish line.
This month Lilian and Yves, two First Literacy scholars, turned the tassel at the Mount Wachusett Community College graduation ceremony. We are excited to celebrate and honor their achievements.
Overcoming Fear and Tragedy, Now She Is One Step Closer to Her Dream
Lilian was born and raised in Brazil, she grew up surrounded by love, but was forced to cope with violence and the tragic murder of her brother. Eventually threats to herself and her children became too much, and she made the decision to move with her family to the United States.
When Lilian arrived in the U.S., she had a 5-year-old daughter and 7-month old son. She did not know any English and didn’t have a job. While Lilian earned two degrees in Brazil, these degrees were not valid in the U.S., so she was forced to start from scratch with her education.
Determined to pursue a career in the United States, she started taking courses to become a Nursing Assistant. Soon after, she passed the state test to become a licensed Nursing Assistant and decided to take the pre-requirements for a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Even though the difficulties of being a non-native English speaker continued to plague her she pushed on towards her goal.
In 2020, Lilian was awarded a scholarship from First Literacy. The scholarship provided her with the funds necessary to pursue her education and her dream of becoming a nurse.
“First Literacy has made an immense contribution to the realization of my dream of becoming a nurse. Through the financial and motivational support I received from First Literacy I was able to bear the costs since I do not qualify for financial assistance from the state.”
With the support of First Literacy, Lilian enrolled in classes at Mount Wachusett Community College and earned her associate degree in nursing.
“Sometimes it is necessary to postpone dreams, but never cancel them.”
Filled with persistence, Lilian is now enrolled in the nursing program at Fitchburg State College where she plans to complete her bachelor’s in nursing before moving onto her master’s degree.
Determined To Further Her Education and Inspire Her Children to Do the Same
Yves was born and raised in Haiti. When Yves arrived in the U.S. she was met with many challenges. As a single mother of three, Yves struggled to juggle work and support her daughter who battled severe depression.
Determined to show her children the value of education and pursue her dream of a better life for herself and her children, she enrolled in ESOL classes at the Mount Wachusett Community College Adult Learning Center. After completing the ESOL program she set her sights on a college degree.
In 2018, Yves was nominated for a First Literacy scholarship. The scholarship provided her with the funds necessary to pursue her education and her passion for helping others.
“The First Literacy Scholarship helped me financially from the beginning until now. I was able to register for classes thanks to the financial assistance from First Literacy. I also had the opportunity to participate in sessions that taught me how to better organize my academic and financial life. The help I found at First Literacy motivated me to keep going and not give up.”
With the support of First Literacy, Yves was able to attend college and continue to show her children that education opens doors to opportunities and makes dreams possible.
Over the span of 5 years Yves completed her courses and achieved her associates degree in Allied Health. On May 17, Yves received her diploma from Mount Wachusett Community College – proof that her optimism, conviction, and determination paid off.
“I believe education is the key to success. There is always a way, you just have to look in the right direction.”
Graduating with an associate degree was a big milestone for Yves, but her ultimate goal is to become a nurse. She plans to continue her education and pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Scholarships Open Doors to New Opportunities
Each year, First Literacy awards $1,500 scholarships to recent graduates of Massachusetts Adult Basic Education (ABE) or English language programs who are continuing to vocational training or higher education.
Since First Literacy’s Scholarship Program began in 1990, over 500 scholarships have been awarded to adult learners throughout Massachusetts. Awards are given in recognition of educational achievements and potential, community service, and perseverance in the face of hardship.
Congratulations to Lilian and Yves. We are proud of your accomplishments and will continue to cheer you on as you work towards your next goal!