At the end of each school year, Canal Alliance comes together with our students, their families and our partners to celebrate the successes of the past year. This year was no exception at the Education Celebration where we honored 51 students from our Youth and Adult Education Programs.
All of the honorees had achieved a significant milestone in their educational paths — from graduating high school and college to completing our highest level of ESL classes and acquiring a certificate from our Career Education programs.
That evening, we had the opportunity to hear two of our students describe the impact of these programs on their lives. Below are the speeches given by two of our students, Eneida and Osvaldo.
“Hello, I am Osvaldo Guevara. I am from El Salvador and was 14 years old when I came to this country. I came to the United States because I was hoping to have a better life, to help my family, and for better work opportunities.
Canal Alliance helped me to get my green card and my construction certificate.
I decided to do the construction academy with Canal Alliance because it was a local program and it covered the topics I wanted to learn about for my career in construction. I thought getting the certificate was a good opportunity, and since I did not have any experience in construction it was a good way to get a taste of what working in construction would be like.
My life has changed dramatically because of getting this certificate. I have always wanted to work in construction and this program made my dream come true. Now I have the chance to get in to the construction industry with the basic knowledge and safety skills I need.
If I had not attended the construction academy, I would still be at my old job feeling stressed and worried, not just economically, but looking for some other way to get ahead in my career.
Now that I have a better chance to work in construction, I would like to learn more about topics such as electricity, plumbing, framing, concrete and anything else I need to know to be successful.
Through the program I learned something very important, which is that practicing good safety skills on the job cannot only save you from injuries, but also save your life. For my future, I hope to have my own company with my family, and I would also like one day to help people with no experience, just like me.”
“Hello everyone! My name is Eneida Sanchez. I am very excited to be here and tell you a little bit about myself. I recently graduated from the University of Redlands and received a BA in Communication Sciences and Disorders.
I would like to thank my parents, mentors and teachers for all the support they’ve given me.
Let me tell you a little bit about a very important person, my mom and her story. From a young age, my mother loved going to school. On her 10th birthday, she received a dictionary that she cherished very much. It was the only book she had at home. One day while she was at work, she came home to find her dictionary gone, she was devastated. She couldn’t afford to buy another one. Although she loved to learn, her parents couldn’t afford to continue paying for her education fees after the 5th grade.
She came from an unstable home where her dad was an alcoholic and abusive. She started to work at a very young age, never seeing her parents because she woke up at 4am to walk miles to work and came home late at night. She knew that she had to make a change to earn more money in order to support her family. She immigrated to the US at the age of 21.
Coming to the US, a country known for their freedom, she felt her freedom had been stripped away from her. She couldn’t go out on her own because ICE was roaming the streets.
She clearly remembers the day when she was sitting outside her aunt’s house enjoying the sun and she saw an ICE van pull into the driveway, her heart dropped, her whole body went numb, she didn’t know what to do, she couldn’t move, she couldn’t talk. The van pulled into the driveway to turn around and left.
She started working in a factory where she met my dad. They started dating and decided that it would be best to move to Marin County with my dad’s sister lived. A few days after moving here they found out that the factory where they met and worked had been raided by ICE and many of their co-workers had been detained.
My parents dreamed of a stable future for my siblings and I. A future where we didn’t have to worry about walking down the street to the store, a future where we didn’t have to work double time to make ends meet, a future where we wouldn’t be taken advantage of, a future where they could give us a strong support system and see us flourish.
While they have given my siblings and I everything we could ask for, they knew they couldn’t guide us through the most important system to break the poverty cycle, higher education.
I became part of the Canal Alliance UP! program in 2011, when I started my first year of high school. I have received invaluable support from the UP! program. From tutors that helped me prosper in my AP classes to financial aid that allowed me to receive the best education.
I am very thankful for the staff that mentored me to become a competitive applicant for college. I am very lucky to say that if it wasn’t for the financial aid Canal alliance provided I wouldn’t have completed my education at my dream school. The UP! program has shaped me in a way to be more aware of the socioeconomic barriers in my community which I want to work towards breaking.
If it wasn’t for UP!’s tutoring help, guidance and financial support I am not sure where I’d be today. Maybe I would’ve gotten into my dream school but dropped out by the second year because I couldn’t afford it. Maybe I wouldn’t have been A-G eligible and wouldn’t have been able to apply to college. All I am sure about that if it wasn’t for Canal Alliance’s UP! I wouldn’t be in this position where I am able to continue mentoring first generation students, advocating for my brother who had down’s syndrome and working in a job I love.
I hope to become a Nurse Practitioner and practice in a community clinic where I can use by bilingual skills to communicate with my community and learn about preventative and help prevent health disparities.”