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Monday, March 18, 2024

‘When You Want Something, You Work for It’ ESOL Graduate and Nurse Widleunie Sets Example for Other Students

Humans have been conditioned over time to enter into a “fight or flight” mode when faced with many of life’s challenges, big or small.

Widleunie, a recent graduate of Catholic Charities South’s English Transcultural Center (ETC) in Brockton, knows this feeling firsthand. To escape poverty in Haiti, she chose a daunting journey––leave behind her family and travel from Haiti to Brockton, alone and knowing very little English––in the hopes of creating a better life for her and her young son.

Rather than flee in the face of the uncertainty or treat her situation as a burden she had to fight through however, Widleunie chose to view her circumstances as a joyful opportunity to grow – a response that ETC Program Director Cheri Shaw said has inspired many of Widleunie’s classmates and Catholic Charities staff alike.

Having worked as a registered nurse at a hospital in Haiti for six years, Widleunie knew she wanted to continue working in the healthcare field. Shortly after arriving in Brockton, she secured a part-time nursing assistant job at a local healthcare organization. She remembers the day her manager called her in and said a patient had requested to no longer work with her due to her lack of English fluency. That experience––while discouraging at the time––was a wake-up call to her, transforming her desire to become fluent in English into a goal she was determined to conquer.

Shortly later, she learned of Catholic Charities Boston’s ESOL programs in Brockton. “I liked everything about the program,” she says. “They are so patient and will do anything to help you. It’s not just about learning English, they also make sure you have everything you need and always guide you on everything.”

Widleunie gradually increased her fluency over her two years at ETC. During her final six months in the program, she was simultaneously enrolled in a nursing review course to prepare her to take the U.S. nursing licensing exam.

“She sent the whole class a video of her study habits for the R.N. exam, and she had these giant pieces of paper on her apartment wall with all of the material she was learning. She highlighted books and had notes everywhere.” said Cheri. “That’s just the type of hardworking person she is.”

Today, Widleunie is a full-time registered nurse and is currently working at a nursing home in Rhode Island. “When I started working again, I feel like I’m doing what I love to do,” she said. “Even if I had to do nursing training all over again, I would choose to be a nurse – I love helping people and seeing results in my work.”

Widleunie and her son

This past summer, Widleunie’s son was able to move from Haiti to join her in Brockton. Through the support and advocacy of Catholic Charities staff, he was quickly enrolled in a public middle school where he is doing very well.

“When you want something, you work for it,” she said. “It might be hard, but if you set your goal, you can do it. Everything is possible.”

Learn more about Catholic Charities Boston’s ESOL and Adult Education programs here.

To support clients like Widleunie and her son, click here.

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