The semester will close in two weeks and we rejoice with all our students who have accomplished so much this year. Graduates of the program are: Emaway Mekuria, Stephanie Ochoa, Tatiana Karandasheva, Kestutis Grinciunas, Mayra Pinto and Binta Bah. This is always a hard time as we say “good bye” to folks we have come to know and love through weekly contact. We have given them the foundation they need to proceed to the next level of learning and career development. We highlight a few of our “success stories” here.

Dr. Kestutis Grinciunas came to us to sharpen his English and prepare to find work here in Grand Rapids. He is from Lithuania and is an orthopedic surgeon who would have to begin again to become certified here in the United States. We were able to help him (and his wife) become enrolled in GRCC’s new C.N.A. program in May. Through this special grant program, he will receive free textbooks, uniforms and testing. He has also applied to “Doctors without Borders” where he will do surgery in Haiti.

Tatiana Karandasheva is from is Russia and was very frustrated because people did not understand her while shopping or making appointments. She was highly motivated and worked many hours each week to master grammar, idioms and clearer pronunciation. She now volunteers at Meijer’s Gardens asking visitors if they would like to sign up for membership. In September, she and her husband (a professor at Aquinas) will join our citizenship class.

Stephanie Ochoa is from Venezuela and was taught English at home. Her husband was transferred to Dematic U.S.A. last year. When she arrived here, it was a total cultural shock and she didn’t feel confident in her speaking skills. She has tested as the highest achiever in the ESL program this year. You probably have seen Stephanie because she volunteers in the Dominican Center Bookstore. Next September she will become a tutor in our program helping a young mother from Venezuela with her English skills.