Carmen Cohen

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.

I enrolled in the program course. The class was made up of 13 students, the youngest of which was 18 and the oldest (besides me) was 46. I will leave my age to your imagination. The course was very intense, challenging, and demanding. It had been YEARS since I had been in school, so 6 hours of classes, hours of homework, and studying for exams, while also taking care of a household; was more than I could handle! At times I lacked faith in myself and was tempted to drop out. I struggled and learned all I could from the most dedicated instructors, who were demanding, yet believed in their students.

Honestly, I admire them for their patience and dedication to a community like ours. After successfully completing this course, I was placed to do my internship at the City of Hartford’s Health and Human Services Department’s HIV program as a Senior Interviewer. It was there that I applied all the training I received at the CPRF, which made me a competitive candidate for the official job opening of my internship position. I am honored to say that I am officially working in that position now. I am so grateful for my job, and I love it more and more as the days go by. There is room for professional and personal growth, as well as opportunities to branch out and serve my community. I finally feel complete – I have successfully attained a job that is relevant to my educational background and my passion to help others.

I would like to take this opportunity to especially thank all of the sponsors and collaborators of the programs at the CPRF that help excel the community. Without your support, it would not be possible for people like me to reach their goals. I have had the honor of becoming part of the Forum’s family; a family that helped me believe in myself and struggle through obstacles. A special “thank you” goes to Mr. Calixto Torres and all the staff. You have empowered and opened new avenues for all those who have participated in the Forum’s programs. You have helped make many dreams come true! You can truly say

“empowering tomorrow’s professionals” is a creed that the CPRF’s staff makes come true for all their students.

Thank you!