Next Step Alumni Spotlight: Jose Membreño

By Roxana Pérez 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 Jose Membreño who graduated from Next Step in 2014 with his GED.

Jose at The Next Step Public Charter School's graduation on July 2015, after receiving The Ben Friedberg scholarship of $1,000.

Jose at The Next Step Public Charter School's graduation on July 2015, after receiving The Ben Friedberg scholarship of $1,000.

Q: Where were you born? How did you hear about Next Step?

I was born in El Salvador, and I came to the US in 2012.  I heard about The Next Step PCS through a family friend.  

Q: What attracted you to Next Step and how was your experience?

What attracted me to The Next Step was the support that I had while attending there. I met different professors who really helped me become a successful student; for instance, I met Mr. Torres who was the professor of reading comprehension, social studies, and science. Mr. Torres helped me in these three different subjects in a way that I definitely understood the materials. Because of the support of Mr. Torres, and other staff from the school, I passed the GED successfully.

My experience at the Next Step PCS was excellent because beside the support from the professors and staff from the school, I also met a number of classmates many of which became my friends. For example, I met friends from Honduras, Guatemala, México, El Salvador, and even friends from Africa. Therefore, my experience at the Next Step PCS was excellent because of the different reasons mentioned above.

Q: In what language did you take the GED exam?

I took the GED in Spanish.

Q: Is English your native language?  If not, what is your native language?

No, my native language is Spanish.

Q: How long did it take you to pass the GED?

To obtain my GED, It took me one school year.  

Q: What was your motivation for getting your GED?

My motivation to get my GED was the need for a higher education so that I could help my Mom and my family.

Q: Did you ever feel frustrated during your time at Next Step?

Yes, I felt frustrated when I did not pass one of the subjects the first time I took the official GED. I remember that when I went to take that exam I had the flu. The staff at the school advised me to not take it for that very reason but I decided to go and take it anyways. Consequently, I did not pass the social studies section and I felt very frustrated about the situation. 

Q: What helped you pass the GED? 

Jose at The BARD College Graduation on June 2015

Jose at The BARD College Graduation on June 2015

What definitely helped me to pass the GED was my optimistic attitude, and my effort to do all my best in every single class so that I could make my mom proud. I consider myself a very optimistic person because even when things seem dark, I try to see the positive side of things, which has helped me learn from my mistakes. Ultimately, what definitely helped me pass the GED was my optimism and having my mom as inspiration.   

Q: What advice would you give to current students that are attempting to pass the GED?

My advice: Do it my friend, pass that GED because if you don’t do it, no one will do it for you. You are the owner of your decisions, so only you can decide what you want. Do you want to stay where you are right now, or do you want to go beyond where you are? Remember my friend that I was in your position, and if I did it, I believe you can do it as well.

Q: What are you doing now?

After The Next Step PCS, I attend LAYC Career Academy and graduated from their IT program.  I also attended the BARD College Program and obtained 6 college credits.  I am currently enrolled at Montgomery College (MC) taking creditable classes towards my associates degree in Electrical Engineering.

Q: What’s the best part about your job and/or school?

The best part of my school is that I am absolutely preparing myself at MC and learning new things as I work my way towards becoming a professional in this country.

Q: What are your future professional goals?

My future professional goals are to get my Master's in Electrical Engineering, go work for a company in my field and then save enough money so I can I own my own company someday.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not working or going to school?

My favorite things to do when I am not working or going to school is to listen to music and to exercise.