Student Success Stories

In their own words . . .

Fahim Rustaey – Student Success Story

Lisa PointerI worked with the U.S. Army as a Policy Advisor in Afghanistan. My life was threatened by Afghan citizens who were angry that I was helping U.S. forces.  I recall vivid memories when I used my body as a shield to protect American soldiers from bullets fired in a moving vehicle. As a result of social turmoil in Kabul and threats to my life, I relocated to Washington D.C. for my safety and well-being.

In Afghanistan I earned a degree in Diplomatic Affairs from the University of Kabul. My plan once I arrived to Washington D.C. was to continue my education, gain more skills, and secure employment.  I learned about UDC Workforce Development and Lifelong Learning IT Career Pathway Program.

With the knowledge I gained from the IT Career Pathway and career counseling I connected with employment opportunities via web. As a student at WDLL I also worked on understanding the culture of the job search process in the United States and how to find and network with decision makers.

I attended networking events and created a LinkedIn account and connected with potential employers and successfully found freelance Farsi/Dari translation opportunities. As a refugee I understand trauma and displacement and value education and hope for a successful future.  I now work for the Embassy of Afghanistan where I serve as a Legal Advisor.

Cinque Smith – Student Success Story

Saundria JacksonI recently graduated from high school and do not have the financial means to continue my college education. Having a high school diploma could not guarantee me employment.  My plan is to work, save, and pay for college.
I expressed an interest in sports management to Student Success Specialists at UDC-CC. After discussing my interests, academic, and career aspirations, I was informed about hospitality courses offered at the University of the District of Columbia Community College Workforce Development Program at no cost. Subsequently, I registered for the summer semester.

As a student I participated in academic enrichment and professional development workshops. I never interviewed for a job before and doubted my ability to successfully network and interview for positions. WDLL’s career counselors coached me in networking and interviewing skills.  I received the opportunity to interview for a D.C. United RFK Stadium Guest Services.  After a successful interview I obtained the opportunity.

I guide guests around the stadium and assist with complaint and comment forms. I help accommodate disabled guests and ensure that all guests have proper ticketing information. Taking courses focused on hospitality through WDLL helped me understand the importance of providing great customer service for a business. Excellent customer service is the heart of a successful business.  Along with meeting with student success specialists and career counselors, I also met with transition specialists.  They guided me through college application process and resources available to assist my pursuit of completing an undergraduate degree in business management.

Belen Saravia – Student Success Story

Sharman WilkinsI am passionate about raising awareness on health issues affecting immigrant families in the District of Columbia. After graduating from Dominican College of Blauvelt in New York, where I majored in Psychology, I hoped to work for a health organization in Washington D.C.

My family emigrated from Bolivia, and I was born and raised in the District of Columbia. I want to help the community that has contributed to my growth and success. My college degree gave me a great understanding of psychology, but I must acquire more training to be a more competent health professional. I am very proud that our city offers these professional development courses at no cost to residents of the District of Columbia.

My brother graduated from the University of the District of Columbia and he encouraged me to register for the University’s Workforce Development and Lifelong Learning Program. UDC is important to our family because it  gave my brother the opportunity to obtain his education, and gave me the opportunity to gain more knowledge to serve my community.  I truly admire my instructor’s WDLL for their ability to inspire students. I am currently a medical assistant student; I’m also working for La Clinica Del Pueblo, a community clinic that offers affordable and quality health care for District of Columbia residents.

Zoila America Guardado – Student Success Story

Darrel MaxwellI came to the U.S. from El Salvador on my own, and spoke very little English when I first arrived. Moving to another country, I felt scared because I did not understand the language. I was involved in an abusive relationship and suffered from domestic violence for years.  To compound the problem, I struggled to speak to and understand coworkers at my cleaning job.

In 2008 I enrolled in English classes at the Carlos Rosario School. I left my abuser and moved into a shelter for survivors of domestic violence. At this time I was taking GED and English as a Second Language preparation classes. Although it was often difficult to come to class from the shelter, I never gave up on my education.

After passing the official GED exam, I continued my education at WDLL and received training to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. Drawing from my experiences, I became a health promoter in my community and started working for Providence Hospital.  Obtaining my education has given me more confidence in myself and my abilities and I am looking ahead to a bright future.



Llegué a los EE.UU. desde El Salvador por mi cuenta y hablando muy poco inglés. Cuando uno se muda a otro país, uno siente miedo cuando no entiende el idioma. Yo estaba involucrada en una relación abusiva y sufria violencia doméstica durante años. Para agravar el problema, luché por hablar y entender a mis compañeros de trabajo de limpieza.

En el 2008, me inscribí en clases de inglés en la Escuela Carlos Rosario.Dejé a mi abusador y me mudé a un refugio para víctimas de violencia doméstica. En ese momento yo estaba tomando el GED y también clases de inglés como segundo idioma de preparación. A pesar de que a menudo era difícil llegar a clase desde el refugio, nunca me di por vencida en mi educación.

Después de pasar el examen oficial de GED, continué mi educación en la Universidad de Distrito de Desarrollo de Fuerza Laboral de Columbia Community College (UDC-CC-WDLL). Allí recibí entrenamiento para recibir un certificado auxiliar de enfermería. A partir de mis experiencias, me convertí en una promotora de salud en mi comunidad y trabajo para el Hospital Providence. La obtención de mi educación me ha dado más confianza en mí misma y en mis habilidades. Ahora estoy mirando un futuro brillante.




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