By Roxana Perez and Vita Soto
Welcome to the Next Step Alumni Spotlight! Every month throughout the school year we highlight a Next Step Alumni that has received their GED to check in and see how they are doing and what they’ve been up to since graduating from Next Step PCS.
For this month, we interviewed Ariel Berroa who graduated from Next Step in 2013 with his GED.
Q: Where were you born? How did you hear about Next Step?
I was born in Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic. I heard about Next Step through my Mom, who took classes at Mary Center.
Q: What attracted you to Next Step and how was your experience?
What attracted me about Next Step was the teachers and how much they cared as well as the positive relationship teachers had with students. The experience was nice but difficult because I didn’t know anyone and had just came from the Dominican Republic.
Q: In what language did you take the GED exam?
I took the Spanish GED exam.
Q: Is English your native language? If not, what is your native language?
My native language is Spanish.
Q: How long did it take you to pass the GED?
I took me about two years.
Q: What was your motivation for getting your GED?
My motivation was getting a good job and furthering my education. Before I came to the US, I was in my last year of high school in my country and so I really wanted to finish.
Q: Did you ever feel frustrated during your time at Next Step?
Yes, I did feel frustrated, especially with Math. I ended up withdrawing from the day school and re-enrolling in the night school. What got me back to Next Step was that had an experience at work where I burnt my arm and decided then that working in restaurants was not for me and so I came back to get my GED.
What helped you pass the GED?
My desire to pass and the motivation I got from teachers like Mr. Torres, Ms. Barrios, and Mr. Mundo from the day school and Mr. Carlos from the night school.
Q: What advice would you give to current students that are attempting to pass the GED?
Keep trying and don't give up. Yes, it’s frustrating but dedicate time to your studies. If you leave before you finish you’re going to get stuck in the same place and you’re going to regret leaving. If you leave, it might be harder to get back so don't give up!
Q: What are you doing now?
I just finished up my second year of AmeriCorps at LAYC. At the end of my two years of service through AmeriCorps I will end up being awarded about $11,000 in scholarship money to continue my education. Currently I am working as a teacher aide at LAYC Career Academy.
Q: What’s the best part about your job and/or school?
The best part of AmeriCorps has been working as a teacher's aide with middle school youth at Raymond Education Campus--it was a beautiful and unforgettable experience. In addition to being a teacher's aide I worked in the after school program and was a soccer coach too, helping our team win a championship cup.
Q: What are your future professional goals?
I want to continue my career in education and get a bachelors degree in education, focusing on K-12.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?
I like to spend time with my daughter and family.