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 Casiano Flores who graduated from Next Step in 2014 with his GED.
Q: Where were you born?
A: I was born and raised in Puebla, Mexico.
Q: How did you hear about Next Step?
A: I found out about The Next Step through word of mouth. Someone told me about this amazing school.
Q: What attracted you to Next Step and how was your experience?
A: I thought to myself, "somehow this school makes me feel like I am home.”
Q: What program did you attend? i.e. day or night school
A: I initially started in the day program and I had to withdraw a couple times for personal reasons and also to work full-time. I returned some time later and enrolled in night school.
Q: In what language did you take the GED exam?
A: In Spanish.
Q: Is English your native language? If not, what is your native language?
A: No, my native language is Spanish.
Q: Did you take ESL classes? If so, where did you take classes and for how long?
A: Yes, I took ESL classes for 8 months after passing the GED at Next Step. I continued ESL at Carlos Rosario and when I was fluent enough I was able to start the Culinary Arts Program.
Q: How long did it take you to pass the GED?
A: I was in and out of school, so overall it took me 3 years to get my GED diploma.
Q: What was your motivation for getting your GED?
A: My motivation for me to get my GED was that I wanted be chef and attend Culinary Arts school. Without a GED I would not be able to do that. Also, all the encouragements, and support I received from my teachers and counselors motivated me to keep going.
Q: Did you ever feel frustrated during your time at Next Step?
A: I felt a bit frustrated when I took exams and did not pass them. I had a lot of thing going on in my life at that time and I recall wanting to give up on school many times.
Q: Who/What helped you pass the GED?
A: Mr. Juan Carlos, Night school Principal and my teachers helped me. They gave me advice constantly. They told me to continue school. They encouraged me to put forth more effort and push myself to study hard in order to pass the GED.
Q: Are you a recipient of any scholarships at Next Step or any other ones?
A: Yes, I received The Next Step scholarship for $500.
Q: What advice would you give to current students that are attempting to pass the GED?
A: Well, my advice for students is that no matter how hard life currently is please don't leave your dreams. It may be difficult but not impossible. Have patience, dedication, effort and study hard. This is all you need in order to have success in life. If I did it, you can do it!
Q: What are you up to now?
A: I graduated from The Culinary Arts Academy at Carlos Rosario. Currently, I am working as a chef in a restaurant in downtown DC. I will continue working as a chef for 2 years to gain more experience. After 2 years I want to go to college and major in Hospitality and Tourism with a concentration on Food and Beverage Management.
Q: What’s the best part about your job and/or school?
A: The best part of my job is when people come in to eat and drink the food I make because when they leave satisfied with the flavor of our delicious food. It makes me happy and I love what I do.
Q: What are your future professional goals?
A: I want to own a restaurant one day.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not working or going to school?
A: When I’m not working I enjoy riding my bike, watch movies, run, go out to dinner, and spend time with family and friends.
Q: Any last words?
A: I want to thank Ms. Barrios, Mr. Torres, Mr. Carrias, Mr. Mundo, Mr. Carlos Barragan, Ms. Moya, Mr. CJ, Ms. Vita, Ms. Lita, Ms. Karen, Mr. Giulianni, Mr. Sabalu, Ms. Katia, Ms. Shira, Ms. Charlin, and of course Principal, Mr. Juan Carlos. THANK YOU SO MUCH NEXT STEP!