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We are so proud of our alumni. Here are a few of our many success stories. Click here to submit your own!
Buenas noches a todos y todas. Mi nombre es Virginia Kase y estoy aqui esta noche para compartir mi experiencia en El Connecticut Puerto Rican Forum. I walked through the doors of the Puerto Rican Forum for the first time in the fall of 1989 when it was located above a pharmacy on the corner of Park & Washington Streets. Anyone who is from Hartford knows what the social and economic climate was like back then. It was a sad time for the city, very much like it is now. For those of you who weren’t around I’ll share some interesting facts with you. According to 1990 Census data for Hartford, 45% of adults living in the Frog Hollow section the city, where the Forum was located at the time, lived in poverty. 61.2% of children from the same neighborhood lived in poverty and 53% of people under the age of 25 had no high school diploma and were not in school. This was my reality and the odds were against me. At age 17 I was a high school dropout living in a two bedroom apartment with seven other people. Had it not been for government assistance we would not have had food in our home. Life seemed bleak and although I knew that I wanted better, I did not know how to go about pursing it on my own. However, that all changed when I saw my friend Marisol Jimenez attend the Puerto Rican Forum earlier that year. I watched her go from a single mother and high school dropout to a program graduate with a good job at Aetna. Her commitment to creating a better life for herself and her daughter inspired me to sign up for the program as well.
I am proud to share my life story Connecticut’s Puerto Rican Forum has given me.
That’s because 21 years ago, life was very difficult for me.
I was a teenage parent
I relied upon welfare to support my child which meant limited income and an unstable home
I was afraid for myself and my child and
Life just seemed hopeless.
I learned about Connecticut’s Puerto Rican Forum from an incredible mentor of mines, Lisa Candels from Family Life Education.
I enrolled in a six month program held 5 days a week to develop business knowledge and skills for the workplace. Our studies consisted of literacy training, communications, typing, word processing, business writing, and analysis. read more...
A train brought me from Chicago to Connecticut. But my education at the Connecticut Puerto Rican Forum brought me from despair to success.
My arrival here was preceded by a life full of difficult circumstances. My father abandoned our family when I was just 5 years old. By the age of 17, I lost my mother to cancer. I lost all contact with my brother after he became addicted to cocaine.
Up until the last year of my mother’s life, I was a very good student at a high school composed predominately of white students and faculty. But when my mother was dying, I found it difficult to maintain my studies and my grades. Consequently, I decided to pay a visit to my guidance counselor. I really wanted to graduate with the rest of my class. As I described my plight to her, she said to me, “You should drop out Sweetie; the odds are against you.” I was devastated. I felt rejected. At that point I believed that I had no choice but to drop out, so I did.
No mother, no school, no ambitions, no hope, and no future. That was my reality. One day I made the call that would change my life forever; I called my relatives living in Hartford. Overnight I received an envelope containing a one-way train ticket with a note that read: “It is all up to you now”. I packed my belongings. I said goodbye to Chicago and hello to Hartford. read more...
I would like to share with you my thoughts on the purpose and value of the Connecticut Puerto Rican Forum, beginning with sentiments I expressed at my graduation in the summer of ’98.
Attending the CPRF was one of my successful experiences of development. How often do you find top level training while paying nothing and yet leaving with a respected certificate and valuable skills? I found learning at the CPRF easy if you had drive and ambition, but even if you slacked off or had an intrusive outside problem, the staff would get to you if you didn’t get to them first.
Upon leaving the CPRF, my office administration skills were sharpened, my confidence greater and I was ready to achieve my primary goal of economic stability.
As former students, we have continued to build on our knowledge, experience and marketability. One former student currently working at ING Americas with me, recently remarked to me, with delight on her face, “I started working here shortly after I left the CPRF. read more...
I remember the day I boarded a plane and flew 4.5 hours to the USA. I was a young adult who looked forward to becoming a member of the society that was envied by the rest of the world. I found myself filling out job applications and appearing at employment sites with a folder under my arm filled with my credentials. I held onto the dictionary that would defend my translation. The day I was offered my first job at a bank, I was filled with pride because I had successfully earned my place in American society.
After working at a bank for 28 years, I was laid-off and to me, it was almost impossible to start all over again. Technology and the demands of the job market had changed radically. I thought I would complete my retirement with the bank; and live happily under the Colombian sun. But everything was shattered once I realized that I had to meet the demands of the job market. I decided to go back to school and compete with the young people who are the “key to the future”; because I am also the future regardless of my age! Then I learned about the courses offered at the CPRF; I had finally found the opportunity to start another career. read more...
I am here to tell you of the wonderful life I am enjoying since graduating from the Connecticut Puerto Rican Forum.
Life wasn’t so wonderful for me 10 years ago. I was 17 with a daughter nearly two years-old and receiving state assistance. The only jobs I could get were in retail where I was paid minimum wage.
I learned about the CPRF from my parents. They have always been very supportive of me. But I was very skeptical that an organization like the CPRF and free programs could offer me much help. I was so mistaken. My parents and I were amazed at the training and the opportunities the Forum provided me over the course year. read more...