Dear Friends and Community Partners,
2015 has been another exciting year for those of us who work at C.E.P. The annual newsletter is an opportunity for us to reflect and share some of the successes of our amazing adult students over the past year. Reflecting on the achievements of our community of learners is personally gratifying for me (food for the soul), and I hope the stories will be of interest to those of you who continue to support our work in Holyoke and Hampden County. At this time when so much of the news is monopolized by extremist rhetoric and acts of violence, we hope you will join us in celebrating the strength and richness diversity brings to the civic and cultural fabric of our community. We can’t do it alone; our small agency has a big heart, but it is only as strong as the partnerships we maintain with individuals and other organizations in the community. If these stories inspire you as they do me, please join us in supporting our annual fund drive with any donation you can afford.
Mother of three grown children and grandmother, Miriam Gonzales has been enrolled in the Spanish Native Language Literacy HiSET prep classes for over two years. When Miriam is not attending class, or doing her homework, Miriam volunteers at the Ronald MacDonald House in Springfield where she organizes the annual “Three Kings Day” celebration. Miriam also founded “Grandparents Day” in Holyoke as a way of recognizing the contributions that elders have already made and continue to make in the Latino Community. Miriam and her husband, Gonzalo, also organize musical and cultural events in Springfield that celebrate the rich Puerto Rican folk music tradition. If that’s not enough, Miriam is also an organizer for the annual March of Dimes campaign in Hampden County. After she passes the HiSET exam, Miriam plans on enrolling in the CEP Transition to College and Career Program, and then Holyoke Community College.
Mary Gomez is the mother of two deaf children; she also provides intensive foster parent services for two other at risk, special needs
children. Mary speaks Spanish and English and is fluent in American Sign Language. In addition to attending class four days a week, Mary runs her own cleaning business. Recently she was honored by the Woman’s Fund of Western Mass. for her participation in the Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact. Once she completes the HiSET, Mary plans on joining the Transition to College and Careers program before she enrolls at Holyoke Community College where she plans to take course-work that will prepare her for a career working with individuals who are hearing impaired. Mary’s compassion and positive attitude are an inspiration to all at CEP.
When I first started teaching at CEP almost 12 years ago, one of my first ESOL students was Sabina Mauldin. A native of Panama, Sabina, was a single parent who arrived in the U.S. not speaking English; she learned English and worked as a seamstress and a factory worker while she raised her son and made sure he completed high school and graduated college. One of the first things Sabina said to me was, “Now it’s my turn to get an education!” Sabina completed ESOL III at CEP and then went to our partner program, the HALO Center, where she completed her GED in English. In recognition of her persistence and achievement, Sabina received the prestigious “ABE Student of the Year Award” from the Massachusetts Coalition of Adult Educators. After Sabina completed the Transition to College and Careers program, she had planned to enroll at HCC, but as a result of being promoted to a supervisory position at her job, Sabina has had to postpone enrolling in HCC because of her work schedule. Knowing how persistent Sabina is, we have no doubt that she will complete her college education when the time is right.
After passing the HiSET exam, Frances Rivera-Diaz enrolled in the Pre-STEM Summer Academy and then joined the CEP-HCC Transition to College and Careers Program. While in the TCC program, her teacher, Kate Walker, wrote: “Frances impresses me so deeply because she works hard and chases after her goals relentlessly. She wants to transfer from HCC to Smith and study Engineering as an Ada Comstock Scholar. I have no doubt she will carry through with this plan. She usually picks up new things incredibly quickly, but when she doesn’t, she digs her heels in and won’t let go of a problem until she understands it. For some of my students, much of the math is review (even if a foggy review), but for Frances it was brand new past the basics. She began in the Fall in the lower math group, but worked hard independently throughout winter break with the goal of moving up into the advanced group. She reached that goal, and by May had tested into College Math. She also worked extra hard at her writing, improving drastically over the course of the year. She is so, so, smart, and has a super attitude. She brought brightness and enthusiasm to the class and encouraged other students when they were frustrated. She was also great at explaining math concepts to those who were struggling. She is an all-around star, and any scholarship awarded to her will be an incredibly rewarding investment.” After graduating from the TCC program, upon enrolling at Holyoke Community College, Frances was awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation Scholarship in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM Scholarship).
If you believe our educational programs and services help new-comer adults realize their potential to become fully engaged members of the community, please join us. Your gift helps transform lives
Happy Holidays and Wishes for a Peaceful New Year from the Students, Staff and Board of Directors at C.E.P.