X

Student Stories

Determined to build better lives for themselves and their families, many CLC adult learners will not stop short of a college education. The Friends of the Community Learning Center helps these ambitious students follow their dreams by providing college scholarships from the Jacobs Foundation, the Paul F. Ebbitt Scholarship, the Sarah & Lillian Mothers Memorial Scholarship for Young Adults, the Elena Baan Scholarship, and Friends funds to graduates of CLC’s ESOL, GED, and Adult Diploma programs. Most have also participated in CLC’s Bridge to College transition program that prepares adult students for the challenges of college study. The colleges they attend include Bunker Hill Community College, UMass Boston, Cambridge College, Anna Maria College, and Simmons College.

  • JUDELANDE ANTOINE

    JUDELANDE ANTOINE

    Role Model for Other Students

    Judelande has followed a long, challenging path since leaving Haiti in 2011. Arriving pregnant and with no family in the U.S., she quickly became homeless and moved from shelter to shelter until her daughter was born. At that moment, Judelande decided to work to improve life for her new family. She found the Community Learning Center and studied English for several years, graduating in 2014. With the firm goal of becoming a nurse, she immediately enrolled in the Bridge program and successfully graduated in June 2015. Described as a diligent student showing an exemplary level of hard work and dedication, Ms. Antoine made enormous progress in her skills. Her college entrance exam taken at the end of Bridge confirmed that she was ready to start college-level math. Judelande’s passion and strong work ethic make her a role model for other students, her daughter, and the community. The Friends of the CLC is proud to support her in achieving her dream with a scholarship.

  • SHABBIR AHMED

    SHABBIR AHMED

    Following the Accounting Path

    Shabbir is the father of two beautiful children. Helping them to be successful is his primary goal. In 1992, he came to the U.S. with little English and money. After receiving his GED from the Community Learning Center, he soon realized that his employment prospects without further education were very limited. He also struggled at home to help his children with their homework which brought shame and guilt. After working for thirteen years at the same job, Shabbir unexpectedly lost his job when the business closed. As a 2014 graduate of the Community Learning Center’s Bridge program, he is now poised to begin his postsecondary education in Accounting at Bunker Hill Community College. Self-esteem and confidence are also important things Shabbir would like to gain from his college education. He is determined to get the education and training to improve his life and be a successful example for his children. He also dreams of volunteering in his community school to help his community become stronger and to build new relationships. Shabbir loves working with numbers and Accounting, to him, is the perfect vehicle for him to successfully provide for his family. He also plans to go on to a Bachelor’s Degree at UMass after completing his Associates

  • BOUCHAIB BOUKANTAR

    BOUCHAIB BOUKANTAR

    On to a Radiography Career

    After his father passed away when he was four in his native Morocco, Mr. Boukantar saw the sacrifices his mother had to make in order to improve the lives of her children. When he was lucky enough to win the green card lottery in 2002 and came to the U.S., he quickly got a job and tried to attend college. Unfortunately, he discovered that the wages he received weren’t enough to pay for basic needs and college expenses. Bouka was forced to drop out, but continued working and saving. After he got married in 2007 and had two children, he knew he had to do something to provide a better life for his family. He began by taking English classes organized by the Cambridge Health Worker Education Partnership (CHWEP) and administered by CLC. After one year, he moved to the CHWEP college transition class. During the career search unit, Bouka took great care in his research and chose medical radiography, a field which plays to his strengths in math and science and should permit him to move his family firmly into the middle class. After graduating in June, 2015, the Friends of the CLC awarded him a scholarship to embark on the college work necessary for the radiography career. Just as his mother did almost forty years ago, Mr. Boukantar will provide a better life for his family.

  • KHADIDIATOU NIASS FALL

    KHADIDIATOU NIASS FALL

    future social worker

    Khadija was one of nine children born to her family in Dakar, Senegal. She praises her hard-working parents for being heroes and caretakers in her youth. However, when she was a young adult, she was shocked to learn that she was to marry a stranger in an arranged marriage. She ultimately grew to love and feel fortunate for her marriage to a wonderful man, but the years of struggle between her parents and Khadija forever changed her. She wants to become a social worker in order to help new generations not endure the same situation and be able to fight for their rights. In order to reach this goal, she enrolled in the Bridge program to boost her skills for college. Her teachers noted a positive, infectious energy and willingness to support and assist her classmates. The Friends of the CLC is happy to support Ms. Fall’s journey toward changing lives as a social worker with a scholarship.

  • NORMA FELIX-MARTINS

    NORMA FELIX-MARTINS

    future counselor

    From the time she was very young, Norma always wanted to help others. Gaining the skills and experience to enter a helping profession, however, was a dream that was always put on hold. Throughout her life, she has had to overcome a wide variety of challenges, among them an alcoholic father, serious health issues in the family, and abandonment by her first husband after the birth of their daughter. Now it is her turn to move beyond her job cleaning houses. After joining our Bridge to College Program in 2014, Norma became the de facto leader going out of her way to offer encouraging words too all of the other students and organizing an informal support group with fellow students. The Friends of the CLC is proud to support Ms. Felix-Martins with a scholarship which she will use to reach her goal of becoming a counselor.

  • ANA ISABEL SAENZ

    ANA ISABEL SAENZ

    Focusing on Gerontology

    Ana grew up in a small town in Costa Rica with no electricity, and limited food, safe water, sanitation, and clothing. After emigrating to the U.S., she studied English and volunteered at the Windsor St. Health Center. A short time later, she was hired and has worked in a variety of positions with the Cambridge Health Alliance for 35 years. During that time she battled cancer and served as primary caregiver to her mother throughout her last years. These challenges have given her the motivation to further her education and career. With scholarship assistance from the Friends of the CLC, Ms. Saenz will be entering Bunker Hill Community College to study social services with a concentration in gerontology.

  • MALQUISUA SOUSA

    MALQUISUA SOUSA

    future math teacher

    Being a teacher was always Ms. Sousa’s passion. She played teacher as a child and later became a pre-school teacher in her native Brazil. When she came to the U.S., she struggled as a newcomer and remembers vividly an experience she had with one of her daughter’s teachers. Her daughter struggled with that teacher and Malky tried to understand the situation and advocate for her child at a teacher conference. Due to lack of English, she felt powerless and unable to change anything. She immediately found the strength to enroll in English classes, often feeling guilty leaving her young daughter at home. Her skills improved so much that she became a volunteer teacher and decided to pursue a teaching career in the in U.S. While enrolled in the Bridge program, she excelled at math. She made such gains in math that she was accepted into an accelerated summer program for STEM majors at Bunker Hill Community College. The Friends are proud to support Ms. Sousa in her desire to be an exemplary math teacher.

  • DONALD VARNUM

    DONALD VARNUM

    Future counselor

    Mr. Varnum has learned many lessons in life the hard way. He survived an abusive childhood and later took up a life of petty crime. His middle years were spent in and out of prison as he battled addition to drugs and alcohol. After committing a crime at the age of fifty, he finally confronted the demons that had haunted him all of his life. He found “true freedom” and was released as a homeless citizen. Donald found his way to the CLC’s LIFT program for educating homeless adults. He later enrolled and completed Bridge. His dream is to become a reintegration counselor for the penal system. He strongly believes that rehabilitation must begin with strong, supportive programming in the prisons. The Friends will support Donald as he begins his career journey as a sociology student at Bunker Hill Community College.

  • ABDALLAH (JOHN) WAMBERE

    ABDALLAH (JOHN) WAMBERE

    Interested in public policy

    John is proud of his work as a gay activist and human rights defender in his native Uganda. Sexual minorities in Uganda have been denied healthcare, jobs, and protection from the state. John founded a non-profit organization, Spectrum Uganda Initiatives, with colleagues and fought for equality. While he was visiting the U.S. to raise awareness in 2014, the Ugandan President signed a law criminalizing homosexuality. John sought political asylum and has remained in Cambridge since. He is often sought out by local organizations to speak publicly about his experiences. His dream is to study Peace and Conflict Resolution and public policy. The Friends are enthusiastic to support him with a scholarship to begin his academic journey in Sociology at Bunker Hill Community College.

  • RYANN CARL MADAYAG

    RYANN CARL MADAYAG

    Forging a career in computers

    Ryann had a tough time as a teen at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School ten years ago. Originally born in the Philippines, he moved to Cambridge at a very young age. He felt out of place and began to hang around with a bad crowd. His focus and attendance suffered greatly. He also was fascinated by computers and preferred to stay home taking them apart rather than attend school. After being expelled in his senior year, he worked at a cinema and helped his mother taking care of his younger sister. The experience of caring for his sister led Ryann to reflect on this hard work his mother had done to raise him and his brother all by herself. He felt proud of her and now he wanted her to feel proud of him. In 2010, he discovered the GED class at the CLC. His CLC instructor awakened a love for reading in Ryann and he quickly received his GED certificate in February, 2011. After continuing as the full time child care provider for his sister, Ryann decide it was time to pursue his next step of further education and enrolled in the Bridge Program. He excelled as a Bridge student and graduated in only one semester. He plans to attend Bunker Hill Community College to enroll in a PC Hardware Support Specialist certificate program. Concurrent with his studies Ryann will seek internships to get practical experiences in his new career.

  • CELIA MARASCHI

    CELIA MARASCHI

    following a nursing path

    Celia is finally able to focus on herself and her dreams after a long and difficult journey. Born in Brazil, she had always dreamed of working in healthcare because of her passion to help others. But after her parents divorced when she was eight, her mother worked two jobs and sent Celia to live with her grandmother and then her aunt. After her grandmother’s stroke, Celia was asked to take care of her and had to drop out of high school to do so. After moving to the US with her mother in 1989, Celia began working in a restaurant and got married at age twenty-one. After the birth of her two children, one prematurely, her focus shifted to taking care of her own children. In 2002, she was able to take her first step in her education, by attending an adult education center in Somerville. While working toward her GED, she enrolled in a course of study and earned her certificate as a nursing assistant. In 2005 she received her GED but was again set back by a painful divorce. She had to, once again, put her dream on hold to support her children as a single mother. During this time, she sought solace in her faith and found a way to help others by studying to become a youth leader at her church. Finally, in 2013, Celia was able to continue her dream and entered the Bridge Program to work on her skills before continuing on to college. She graduated in 2014 and will pursue her LPN (License Practical Nurse) certificate with an eye to becoming a Registered Nurse soon after.

  • FORTUNEE PLACIDE

    FORTUNEE PLACIDE

    future social worker

    Fortunee taught French and Math to elementary students in Haiti for fifteen years. In the U.S., she has become a student again herself, studying English for many years at CLC and then completing the Bridge program in 2014. Fortunee would like to work helping other Haitians in the community to navigate schools and community resources. Although retired, she wants to embark on a new career and hopes to contribute to her granddaughter’s education. She plans to seek employment after completing her degree in social work.

  • FATIMA ZAHR KADDAR

    FATIMA ZAHR KADDAR

    Career in healthcare

    After arriving in the U.S. two years ago to be with her husband, Fatima enrolled in English classes with her eye on attending college. After completing her English classes, she jumped into classes at Bunker Hill Community College. She struggled to keep up in the developmental classes, despite strong encouragement from her family. She found the CLC Bridge program and realized this was the missing link to academic success. She completed her studies in Bridge making big gains in her skills and confidence, especially in math. Fatima is enrolling in the Medical Information Management Assistant Certificate Program to start building a career in healthcare. After completing the program, she plans to seek employment while continuing her studies for a degree.

  • YALEM YIHDEGO

    YALEM YIHDEGO

    Climbing the Ladder of Success in America

    Like the hundreds of adult learners the Community Learning Center helps every year, Yalem Yihdego saw her life take a dramatic turn for the better when she came to CLC to study English. In just two years after emigrating from Ethiopia with her husband and children in 2002, Yalem completed ESOL, found a job, spent a year in CLC’s Bridge to College program* and a semester in an intensive English program at the Institute for Advanced English Language Studies at the Harvard Extension School and was awarded her first CLC scholarship. She has completed three years at UMassBoston in environmental science, a field in which she worked for 19 years in Ethiopia. She also contributed to the CLC as a paid computer lab assistant and technology aide. A great role model for her children and for all community members, Yalem is passionate about preserving natural resources and is determined to pursue the education that she knows will help her fulfill her potential. "At the Community Learning Center, besides the academic (math and English skills), I learned how to handle the challenges I faced in college or in my daily life. Because of the Bridge to College program I can easily cross…the most challenging barriers of language, culture, social tradition, and assimilation with the community.” — Yalem Yihdego

JUDELANDE ANTOINE

Role Model for Other Students

Judelande has followed a long, challenging path since leaving Haiti in 2011. Arriving pregnant and with no family in the U.S., she quickly became homeless and moved from shelter to shelter until her daughter was born. At that moment, Judelande decided to work to improve life for her new family. She found the Community Learning Center and studied English for several years, graduating in 2014. With the firm goal of becoming a nurse, she immediately enrolled in the Bridge program and successfully graduated in June 2015. Described as a diligent student showing an exemplary level of hard work and dedication, Ms. Antoine made enormous progress in her skills. Her college entrance exam taken at the end of Bridge confirmed that she was ready to start college-level math. Judelande’s passion and strong work ethic make her a role model for other students, her daughter, and the community. The Friends of the CLC is proud to support her in achieving her dream with a scholarship.

SHABBIR AHMED

Following the Accounting Path

Shabbir is the father of two beautiful children. Helping them to be successful is his primary goal. In 1992, he came to the U.S. with little English and money. After receiving his GED from the Community Learning Center, he soon realized that his employment prospects without further education were very limited. He also struggled at home to help his children with their homework which brought shame and guilt. After working for thirteen years at the same job, Shabbir unexpectedly lost his job when the business closed. As a 2014 graduate of the Community Learning Center’s Bridge program, he is now poised to begin his postsecondary education in Accounting at Bunker Hill Community College. Self-esteem and confidence are also important things Shabbir would like to gain from his college education. He is determined to get the education and training to improve his life and be a successful example for his children. He also dreams of volunteering in his community school to help his community become stronger and to build new relationships. Shabbir loves working with numbers and Accounting, to him, is the perfect vehicle for him to successfully provide for his family. He also plans to go on to a Bachelor’s Degree at UMass after completing his Associates

BOUCHAIB BOUKANTAR

On to a Radiography Career

After his father passed away when he was four in his native Morocco, Mr. Boukantar saw the sacrifices his mother had to make in order to improve the lives of her children. When he was lucky enough to win the green card lottery in 2002 and came to the U.S., he quickly got a job and tried to attend college. Unfortunately, he discovered that the wages he received weren’t enough to pay for basic needs and college expenses. Bouka was forced to drop out, but continued working and saving. After he got married in 2007 and had two children, he knew he had to do something to provide a better life for his family. He began by taking English classes organized by the Cambridge Health Worker Education Partnership (CHWEP) and administered by CLC. After one year, he moved to the CHWEP college transition class. During the career search unit, Bouka took great care in his research and chose medical radiography, a field which plays to his strengths in math and science and should permit him to move his family firmly into the middle class. After graduating in June, 2015, the Friends of the CLC awarded him a scholarship to embark on the college work necessary for the radiography career. Just as his mother did almost forty years ago, Mr. Boukantar will provide a better life for his family.

KHADIDIATOU NIASS FALL

future social worker

Khadija was one of nine children born to her family in Dakar, Senegal. She praises her hard-working parents for being heroes and caretakers in her youth. However, when she was a young adult, she was shocked to learn that she was to marry a stranger in an arranged marriage. She ultimately grew to love and feel fortunate for her marriage to a wonderful man, but the years of struggle between her parents and Khadija forever changed her. She wants to become a social worker in order to help new generations not endure the same situation and be able to fight for their rights. In order to reach this goal, she enrolled in the Bridge program to boost her skills for college. Her teachers noted a positive, infectious energy and willingness to support and assist her classmates. The Friends of the CLC is happy to support Ms. Fall’s journey toward changing lives as a social worker with a scholarship.

NORMA FELIX-MARTINS

future counselor

From the time she was very young, Norma always wanted to help others. Gaining the skills and experience to enter a helping profession, however, was a dream that was always put on hold. Throughout her life, she has had to overcome a wide variety of challenges, among them an alcoholic father, serious health issues in the family, and abandonment by her first husband after the birth of their daughter. Now it is her turn to move beyond her job cleaning houses. After joining our Bridge to College Program in 2014, Norma became the de facto leader going out of her way to offer encouraging words too all of the other students and organizing an informal support group with fellow students. The Friends of the CLC is proud to support Ms. Felix-Martins with a scholarship which she will use to reach her goal of becoming a counselor.

ANA ISABEL SAENZ

Focusing on Gerontology

Ana grew up in a small town in Costa Rica with no electricity, and limited food, safe water, sanitation, and clothing. After emigrating to the U.S., she studied English and volunteered at the Windsor St. Health Center. A short time later, she was hired and has worked in a variety of positions with the Cambridge Health Alliance for 35 years. During that time she battled cancer and served as primary caregiver to her mother throughout her last years. These challenges have given her the motivation to further her education and career. With scholarship assistance from the Friends of the CLC, Ms. Saenz will be entering Bunker Hill Community College to study social services with a concentration in gerontology.

MALQUISUA SOUSA

future math teacher

Being a teacher was always Ms. Sousa’s passion. She played teacher as a child and later became a pre-school teacher in her native Brazil. When she came to the U.S., she struggled as a newcomer and remembers vividly an experience she had with one of her daughter’s teachers. Her daughter struggled with that teacher and Malky tried to understand the situation and advocate for her child at a teacher conference. Due to lack of English, she felt powerless and unable to change anything. She immediately found the strength to enroll in English classes, often feeling guilty leaving her young daughter at home. Her skills improved so much that she became a volunteer teacher and decided to pursue a teaching career in the in U.S. While enrolled in the Bridge program, she excelled at math. She made such gains in math that she was accepted into an accelerated summer program for STEM majors at Bunker Hill Community College. The Friends are proud to support Ms. Sousa in her desire to be an exemplary math teacher.

DONALD VARNUM

Future counselor

Mr. Varnum has learned many lessons in life the hard way. He survived an abusive childhood and later took up a life of petty crime. His middle years were spent in and out of prison as he battled addition to drugs and alcohol. After committing a crime at the age of fifty, he finally confronted the demons that had haunted him all of his life. He found “true freedom” and was released as a homeless citizen. Donald found his way to the CLC’s LIFT program for educating homeless adults. He later enrolled and completed Bridge. His dream is to become a reintegration counselor for the penal system. He strongly believes that rehabilitation must begin with strong, supportive programming in the prisons. The Friends will support Donald as he begins his career journey as a sociology student at Bunker Hill Community College.

ABDALLAH (JOHN) WAMBERE

Interested in public policy

John is proud of his work as a gay activist and human rights defender in his native Uganda. Sexual minorities in Uganda have been denied healthcare, jobs, and protection from the state. John founded a non-profit organization, Spectrum Uganda Initiatives, with colleagues and fought for equality. While he was visiting the U.S. to raise awareness in 2014, the Ugandan President signed a law criminalizing homosexuality. John sought political asylum and has remained in Cambridge since. He is often sought out by local organizations to speak publicly about his experiences. His dream is to study Peace and Conflict Resolution and public policy. The Friends are enthusiastic to support him with a scholarship to begin his academic journey in Sociology at Bunker Hill Community College.

RYANN CARL MADAYAG

Forging a career in computers

Ryann had a tough time as a teen at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School ten years ago. Originally born in the Philippines, he moved to Cambridge at a very young age. He felt out of place and began to hang around with a bad crowd. His focus and attendance suffered greatly. He also was fascinated by computers and preferred to stay home taking them apart rather than attend school. After being expelled in his senior year, he worked at a cinema and helped his mother taking care of his younger sister. The experience of caring for his sister led Ryann to reflect on this hard work his mother had done to raise him and his brother all by herself. He felt proud of her and now he wanted her to feel proud of him. In 2010, he discovered the GED class at the CLC. His CLC instructor awakened a love for reading in Ryann and he quickly received his GED certificate in February, 2011. After continuing as the full time child care provider for his sister, Ryann decide it was time to pursue his next step of further education and enrolled in the Bridge Program. He excelled as a Bridge student and graduated in only one semester. He plans to attend Bunker Hill Community College to enroll in a PC Hardware Support Specialist certificate program. Concurrent with his studies Ryann will seek internships to get practical experiences in his new career.

CELIA MARASCHI

following a nursing path

Celia is finally able to focus on herself and her dreams after a long and difficult journey. Born in Brazil, she had always dreamed of working in healthcare because of her passion to help others. But after her parents divorced when she was eight, her mother worked two jobs and sent Celia to live with her grandmother and then her aunt. After her grandmother’s stroke, Celia was asked to take care of her and had to drop out of high school to do so. After moving to the US with her mother in 1989, Celia began working in a restaurant and got married at age twenty-one. After the birth of her two children, one prematurely, her focus shifted to taking care of her own children. In 2002, she was able to take her first step in her education, by attending an adult education center in Somerville. While working toward her GED, she enrolled in a course of study and earned her certificate as a nursing assistant. In 2005 she received her GED but was again set back by a painful divorce. She had to, once again, put her dream on hold to support her children as a single mother. During this time, she sought solace in her faith and found a way to help others by studying to become a youth leader at her church. Finally, in 2013, Celia was able to continue her dream and entered the Bridge Program to work on her skills before continuing on to college. She graduated in 2014 and will pursue her LPN (License Practical Nurse) certificate with an eye to becoming a Registered Nurse soon after.

FORTUNEE PLACIDE

future social worker

Fortunee taught French and Math to elementary students in Haiti for fifteen years. In the U.S., she has become a student again herself, studying English for many years at CLC and then completing the Bridge program in 2014. Fortunee would like to work helping other Haitians in the community to navigate schools and community resources. Although retired, she wants to embark on a new career and hopes to contribute to her granddaughter’s education. She plans to seek employment after completing her degree in social work.

FATIMA ZAHR KADDAR

Career in healthcare

After arriving in the U.S. two years ago to be with her husband, Fatima enrolled in English classes with her eye on attending college. After completing her English classes, she jumped into classes at Bunker Hill Community College. She struggled to keep up in the developmental classes, despite strong encouragement from her family. She found the CLC Bridge program and realized this was the missing link to academic success. She completed her studies in Bridge making big gains in her skills and confidence, especially in math. Fatima is enrolling in the Medical Information Management Assistant Certificate Program to start building a career in healthcare. After completing the program, she plans to seek employment while continuing her studies for a degree.

YALEM YIHDEGO

Climbing the Ladder of Success in America

Like the hundreds of adult learners the Community Learning Center helps every year, Yalem Yihdego saw her life take a dramatic turn for the better when she came to CLC to study English. In just two years after emigrating from Ethiopia with her husband and children in 2002, Yalem completed ESOL, found a job, spent a year in CLC’s Bridge to College program* and a semester in an intensive English program at the Institute for Advanced English Language Studies at the Harvard Extension School and was awarded her first CLC scholarship. She has completed three years at UMassBoston in environmental science, a field in which she worked for 19 years in Ethiopia. She also contributed to the CLC as a paid computer lab assistant and technology aide. A great role model for her children and for all community members, Yalem is passionate about preserving natural resources and is determined to pursue the education that she knows will help her fulfill her potential. "At the Community Learning Center, besides the academic (math and English skills), I learned how to handle the challenges I faced in college or in my daily life. Because of the Bridge to College program I can easily cross…the most challenging barriers of language, culture, social tradition, and assimilation with the community.” — Yalem Yihdego

Find Us

Address
5 Western Ave
Cambridge, MA 02139

Hours
Monday—Thursday: 8:30AM–9:30PM
Friday:
8:30AM–5:00PM