In 2013, Alessandra and her husband immigrated to New York from Verona, Italy. She spoke no English and immediately began her quest to find a school that had the best English as a Second Language program in New York City. But, she had one major problem – very little money. In addition to finding the best program, it also had to be free. “One day, I saw an ad in Metro NY, for the Manhattan Educational Opportunity Center’s [MEOC], English for Speakers of Other Languages program and I was elated,” she said. The following day, Alessandra completed the necessary application, attended the information session and was scheduled for the preliminary assessment test known as the TABE.
During the spring semester of 2014, Alessandra began her journey as an ESOL student. “My life changed that day,” she said. “It wasn’t easy, but I was determined.” She attributes much of her success to the instructors, counselors and MEOC staff who encouraged her along the way. It wasn’t long before Alessandra began thinking of enrolling in college. “I wanted to continue my education. And, I started dreaming about going to college,” she said.
After completing ESOL, she enrolled in the MEOC’s High School Equivalency program and earned her High School Equivalency diploma in August of that same year. In the fall of 2014, she enrolled in College Prep.
On June 4, 2015, as class Valedictorian, Alessandra addressed a crowd of fellow graduates and families in an inspirational speech at the Borough of Manhattan Community College’s Theatre One. “Graduation day was one of the most important days of my entire life. At 58, I was selected as class Valedictorian and had the responsibility to be inspiring. I had to speak to many other students who had worked hard to reach their goal,” she said.
Alessandra’s future is bright and can clearly see her future as a creative writer, her previous profession in Italy. She is determined, courageous and a survivor. “Nothing can stand between me and my dreams, because I'm a fighter and a survivor, like many other students who had shared my path at MEOC,” she states.
SUNY Manhattan Educational Opportunity Center
163 West 125th Street, 15th Floor
New York, NY 10027