By Roxana Pérez and Vita Soto
Welcome to the Next Step Alumni Spotlight! Every month throughout the school year we highlight a Next Step Staff as well as Alumni that have 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 Maria Franco who graduated from Next Step in 2002 with her GED.
Q: Where were you born? How did you hear about Next Step?
A: My name is Maria Magdalena Franco; I am 21 years old. I am from El Salvador, and I have been in the US for four years. When I arrived to the US, I studied at two different places. First, I attended the school called Las Reinas de las Americas where I studied one semester. After, I heard about Carlos Rosario PCS, and I went there for one trimester. Then, one of my classmates mentioned The Next Step Public Charter School. He said, ‘’It is a great school and they have different opportunities for young people.” This is how I found out about The Next Step PCS.
Q: What attracted you to Next Step and how was your experience?
A: I had a great experience because this is where I learned the most of the English I know, but the most important thing I achieved was my GED - that was the main key that opened different doors that allowed me to continue studying.
Q: In what language did you take the GED exam?
A: I did it in Spanish.
Q: Is English your native language? If not, what is your native language?
A: My native language is Spanish, and I am learning English as a second language.
Q: Did you take ESL classes? If so, where did you take classes and for how long?
A: I took ESL classes at The Next Step for about a year and a half after obtaining my GED.
Q: How long did it take you to pass the GED?
A: It took me one year to get the GED.
Q: What was your motivation for getting your GED?
A: I don’t have one specific source of motivation. Since I was a child, I dreamt of a better future for myself and my family. Higher education will give the opportunity for a better job, which will help eliminate the possibility of me being homeless. I believe education is the source to a better life. Plus, education is one thing no one can take away from me.
Q: Did you ever feel frustrated during your time at Next Step?
A: I never felt frustrated. When I didn’t know something, I just asked for help.
Q: Who/What helped you pass the GED?
A: Who? The Next Step PCS director and the school staff gave me positive attitudes, and my teachers supported me with any assignment. Teachers also provided language exercises to practice at home.
What? Dedicating time to study and asking for help when I had doubts.
Q: Are you a recipient of any scholarships at Next Step or any other ones?
A: Yes, from The Next Step PCS, I got the Ben Friedberg Scholarship and the Mundo Scholarship. I also got OSSE Mayor’s Undergraduate Scholar funds and FAFSA.
Q: What advice would you give to current students that are attempting to pass the GED?
A: My advice is to dedicate at least a few minutes every day to study for the GED and to never give up because that is only the beginning of their studying career.
Q: What are you up to now?
A: I am studying Business Administration at the University System Ana G. Mendez located in Wheaton, MD.
Q: What’s the best part about your job and/or school?
A: I enjoy being busy and working and school keeps me busy. Another thing I like is learning, and I learn something new everyday.
Q: What are your future professional goals?
A: First, finish my business administration degree. Second, continue studying to earn a master’s degree.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not working or going to school?
A: I don’t have a lot of free time, but when I do I like to visit new places such as: national parks, forests, historic parks and the library.