by Evan Gray
ESOL Teacher Rebecca Stahl hugs student Leonard Stratoberdha at the Harriet Tubman House
“When I started class at USES, I didn’t know how to read or write,” said Rose Egbe. “Now I can read books to my kids and help them with their homework.”
United South End Settlements (USES) recently celebrated students from the Workforce Readiness program as classes wrap up for the summer. Students, friends and family, and instructors representing Adult Basic Education (ABE), English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), Transition to College, and Microsoft Digital Literacy Certification (MDLC) came together to share accomplishments and celebrate graduates.
The MDLC graduation ceremony on Friday, June 19 was a showcase of impressive student dedication. MDLC is a 480-hour program designed to prepare out-of-work, low income, and underemployed adults for jobs that require advanced computer skills.
Perhaps nobody illustrates the work ethic of an MDLC student quite like Maria Storm. An ironworker, mother, and night student at the Wentworth Institute of Technology, Maria spoke about her goal of using her certificate and new skills to help her become one of the few women in construction management.
ABE, Transition to College, and ESOL students held their celebration on Wednesday, June 24. ESOL students’ stories revealed an array of motivations for enrolling. They spoke about wanting to set a good example for their children, prepare to pass the High School Equivalency Test (HiSet), get into college, and find a better job.
When Leonard Stratoberdha began the ESOL program last October, he worried that it was too late in life to go back to school. The last time he was a student was over 13 years ago back when he was living in his home country of Albania.
“When I started a student asked me, ‘Are you a professor?’ I thought am I too late to learn English?” said Leonard. “No. Now I am speaking English. And best of all, it’s free.”
Although results from the HiSET were not in yet, ABE students celebrated those moving up a class level and those moving on to their next challenge. For Rhina Garcia, this means spending the summer studying to become a Certified Nursing Assistant before returning to USES in the fall.
“Working with my students is a labor of love. They are wonderful,” said ABE Teacher Barbara Alpert. “They are committed to reaching their dreams, getting out of poverty, and are always grateful for what USES is doing for them.”
Jessica Medeiros, College and Career Readiness Coach, is proud of her students now off to post-secondary schools like Bunker Hill Community College, Roxbury Community College, and Urban College of Boston.
“What’s great about working as the College and Career Readiness Coach is that I get to work with students from each of our programs,” said Jessica. “I’m able to see what they all have in common. Everyone is proactive, confident, and looking to give themselves a better life.”
Click here to learn more about USES’ Workforce Readiness program.