Student Stories

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Experience at Evans (by Walter Mancia)

 

My father immigrated to the United States in 1990. After that, he never called or wrote to us. Fourteen years later, I learned he was in California. Thus it was that I decided to leave Honduras and migrate to the United States. I arrived to Los Angeles in 2003, but I did not find my father. To this day, his whereabouts remain a mystery.

Realizing that I was alone again, I started selling oranges, strawberries, mangoes…etc. to make a living. During my time as a fruit vendor, I faced a brutal reality: not only was I undocumented but also I did not speak English. A friend of mine suggested I go to EVANS. Upon arriving to Evans, I was amazed by its friendliness and colorful blend of people from across the world.  Immediately, I registered and started ESL classes in the intensive English program (IEP). Planaria Price was my first professor.  Attending school for the first time in five years was daunting. I hesitated for some time before I finally decided to enter the classroom.  This was a trivial yet one of the most important decisions in my life.

 

I spent four years at Evans during which I was able to learn English and complete the high school program. From the very first day, I was eager and excited to discover new words, meanings and secrets in the English language. My first possession was a Longman English dictionary and hundreds of expressions in English that I downloaded from an online server. But what made Evans an extraordinary and thrilling experience was the nature of the professors, staff and students. Everyone was delighted to be at Evans and embraced everyday with enthusiasm.

Looking back at my time at Evans, I recall with cheerfulness my friends and teachers who often comment on my enthusiasm to learn the new language. They said I was like a sponge, absorbing everything that came my way.  However, I owe this enthusiasm to the love and effort of the staff and professors at Evans. They were just as excited to teach as I was to learn. On a personal level, I met some of my closest friends at Evans. I also I met professors like Juan Noguera, advisor of the student council at that time. We collaborated in several projects around the school, including protests, fund raisings, clean-ups, and social events.  Though I never had the pleasure of taking classes with Noguera, I learned that he was very passionate about teaching and a vibrant activist. Other people who inspired, encouraged and taught me valuable life lessons include Karen McLaughlin and Dublin Gaylean. Not only I felt welcome when seeking advice but also could share my life experiences with them.

 

In 2010, I received my high school diploma from Evans, which opened many opportunities.  However, I believe that the most important step was opening the door that led to my first ESL classroom. After graduating from Evans, I attended East Los Angeles College to study molecular biology. In 2012, I transferred to UCLA where I earned a degree in Molecular Cellular and Developmental biology with a minor in Biomedical Research. In 2015, I started a doctoral degree (PhD) in stem cell and cancer biology at the University of California San Francisco. My dream and goal is to become a professor at a research University and to reach back to the community from which I come from.

Experience at Evans (by Mei Feng)

 

I landed in this country in October 2009, the year I graduated from high school, with limited knowledge about how my life would be changed and the challenges I would be facing. Not long after my arrival, I started at Evans to learn English. I started to learn writing and reading in English when I was in elementary school, so I wasn’t like some the people who really started from scratch. However, speaking and communicating in English was a bigger issue. I remember myself being very shy when talking to people because of my limited vocabulary. Later on I realized the only way to get better in speaking is to speak as much as possible. My friends and I had a little game which we could only speak to each other in English, or we would have to pay a small fine. In addition, most of my teachers at Evans were really friendly and encouraging, and they always encouraged us to speak without feeling uncomfortable. Things were getting better once I was willing to put in more effort. I started to sign up for more challenging classes such as the Intensive English Program (IEP), which was more difficult than the ESL classes simply because teachers expect more from students about the effort they put in. I also signed up for a summer TOFEL class, in which a lot of speaking was required using computers. I met new friends in different classes, and built up some life-long friendships and these people shared the same goal as me. We struggled and grew together. During my last semester at Evans, I signed up for the high school program, but I was not able to finish it because I decided to leave for community college. In this one-and-a-quarter-year journey at Evans, the lesson I’ve learned, which I still carry with me, is that I always have to push myself out of my comfort zone. Only if I keep pushing myself to do something I’m not comfortable with, can I learn more than I expect. The most important thing was that Evans was a cohesive place that helped me to shape who I am now. The people I met in this journey also made a big part of my experience because seeing so many people who did not even know the language at all and were finally able to communicate in English with others really inspired me. Their spirit of not giving up made me not allow myself to give up. One step at a time, is what Evans taught me.

Glendale Community College

Spring 2011, I started college without really knowing what I would want to do in the future. I thought I could figure this out along the way, and lucky me, I met lots of great people, and they were the ones that helped me to realize what I would be passionate about. My college life was all about searching: searching my inner self in a foreign country, searching for my passion, searching the future. Two semesters later, after I took my first macroeconomics class, I set my goal to work for the Federal Reserve System, which is the central banking system of this country (which conducts monetary policy). I wanted to do research on U.S. macroeconomics, and make it a better economy.It was a relatively high goal but I guess no dream is too big. At Glendale, I tried very hard to maintain my excellent academic record and got highly involved with campus activities. Two years after I first started at Glendale, I received huge envelopes from all 4 UCs I had applied to, and one of them was Berkeley. It was the admission letter congratulating me for getting into UC Berkeley. I kinda knew they would want me (I had no idea where I got all the confidence?!), but I was still very, very excited. Ahead of me, a new chapter awaits.

Berkeley Journey

Berkeley was the most important chapter in my academic life. It was the most inspiring place to help me define who I was. It’s known as a super liberal place, and thanks to this place, I was able to see lots of new things I couldn’t see before, and get to know some people I probably wouldn’t have known if I weren’t there. They opened my eyes, and taught me how to be more inclusive, how to accept people for who they are, and mostly importantly, how to accept who I am. It wasn’t easy at the beginning, but for some reason I was able to survive, who knew and it might just be because of my over-optimism. I was also very lucky to study with lots of notable economists, and they made me realize the research they have done could really make a difference, and I could be one of them doing what I am passionate about. Studying at Berkeley was a rough time since I had to consistently be putting effort in everything I was doing and compete with other brilliant students, but all have been paid off, and I am proud to say it’s so worth it. Overall, what Berkeley has taught me is, no pain, no gain, for real. Go Bears!

 

Post-graduation

I am lucky to do what I’ve been dreaming of for now. I am now a research analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. I relocated from California to Cleveland, Ohio after I graduated. It was a big move, but I believe I’ve made the right choice. My role at this job is to provide research support to the Economists I work for, mainly topics on our labor markets, and do analysis using mathematical models and statistical methods. I am learning new things constantly at my job, and I am fortunate to see how economic research is done. I’ve been really enjoying it, and to keep myself moving forward, I will be applying for Economics PhD programs in summer 2018. This is the end of my story, for now. Never stop pursuing my dream and eventually I will get to all the places I want to be. Wish me luck, and good luck to you all. You will get to wherever you want to be eventually, if you keep pursuing your dream.

Resurge from the ashes (by Gema Ortiz)

I arrived to the United States in February, 2014. I was facing a very difficult struggle against myself in Colombia, because I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was a child, and living under the label of a “mental ill” person in my country was not easy. I decided to come here to find a new place to start, and to find the strength that medication had stolen from me for years. However, the most difficult question was to find the appropriate school. I didn’t know a place to study English, and the difference between ESL, High School, College, and Universities were completely unknown for me.

 

Someone recommended me to visit Evans Adult Community School for information about the classes. Mr. Noguera explained me the details about the ESL classes which were the most appropriate for me, because I had never studied English in my home country before. During the interview, the teacher discovered that my English level was high, and he recommend me to take a placement test for High School. Honestly, I was terrified because I did not trust in my English skills to success, but I decided to take the challenge.

 

I passed the test, and my adventure began. Mrs. Rios was an angel in this process. She not only helped me to build my writing and reading skills, but also to enrich the knowledge of my soul. I told her a lot about my life and my struggle, and many conversations with her were crucial to continue my education, and most important to overcome many difficulties that my emotions created within my mind. I found someone who never judged me, and who always allowed me to write freely about my feelings and thoughts.

 

The U.S History and U.S Government classes were very important to understand the American culture. Mr. Lopez encouraged us to write an essay every week. At the beginning, it was extremely difficult, but it helped me to develop the capacity to analyze a topic in English as I do in my first language. Learning has always been the thing I enjoy the most, even when psychiatric medication made concentration almost impossible in the past. Evans School was the appropriate place to learn, and I am very thankful for all the patience and passion that teachers had during the classes. Adult Education provided the necessary tools to get my High School Diploma in one year. Those tools and discipline allowed me to overcome the boundaries of language, and I started college two months ago.

 

I am going to Los Angeles City College, my major is Psychology, and I would like to do research about autism in the future. I have discovered that this process has never been possible without the necessary tools that Adult Education provides every day for foreign people, and for those who have not complete their High School diploma. Adult Education provides opportunities to start over, because knowledge is the most powerful tool to resurge from the ashes, and to pursue our dreams.