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 Andrea Hernandez who graduated from Next Step in 2014 with her GED.
Q: Where were you born? How did you hear about Next Step?
A: I was born in Colombia and heard about Next Step from a staff member.
Q: What attracted you to Next Step and how was your experience?
A: What attracted me the most was the kindness and the way the school helps young people succeed. I went to Next Step in 2014 and enrolled in the ESL program in the evenings, and I really improved my English skills. In addition to that, I obtained the GED certificate and had a beautiful graduation celebration. The Next Step was a wonderful experience because besides learning, I made some great friends.
Q: In what language did you take the GED exam?
A: I took it in Spanish.
Q: Is English your native language? If not, what is your native language?
A: My native language is Spanish. Go Latinos!
Q: Did you take ESL classes? If so, where did you take classes and for how long?
A: Yes, I took ESL classes at The Next Step for about 1 year.
Q: How long did it take you to pass the GED?
A: To be honest, it took me 2 weeks. I decided to take the GED exam on my own while I was enrolled in the ESL program at The Next Step.
Q: What was your motivation for getting your GED?
A: The main motivation was that I wanted higher education to become a Graphic Designer, and it is a requirement to go to college.
Q: Did you ever feel frustrated during your time at Next Step?
A: Thanks to God, I didn't. I always found help and assistance with my classes and life. I would like to highlight that each member of the staff was always there for me and that made feel very special.
Q: Who/What helped you pass the GED?
A: Definitely what helped me pass the GED was the confidence in myself - believing that it was possible to pass it and of course taking into account the knowledge learned.
Q: Are you a recipient of any scholarships at Next Step or any other ones?
A: I applied and was awarded the Ben Friedberg Scholarship. I also obtained the monetary award at the end of the year for perfect attendance. Furthermore, I applied and was awarded another scholarship called New Futures. I feel privileged for finding such great people along the way. I'm pursuing my dreams, this is a country full of opportunities, and I'll take advantage of every opportunity take presents itself.
Q: What advice would you give to current students that are attempting to pass the GED?
A: My advice is to never give up and keep learning with dedication. This way he/she can take the test with confidence and trust the knowledge he/she learned. Trust that every day they are closer to achieve their goals.
Q: What are you up to now?
A: I am currently attending Montgomery College in Rockville. I'm on my third semester majoring in Graphic Design, and I know there is still a lot to do, but I'm working to be one step closer to my goals.
Q: What’s the best part about your job and/or school?
A: The best part of college is that I have many resources available such as library, computer lab, writing center, cafeteria and so much more. Additionally, the flexible schedule to pick my classes; it allows me to work and register for evening classes!
Q: What are your future professional goals?
A: My future goal is to obtain my bachelor's degree and some experience to create my own publishing company in Colombia.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not working or going to school?
A: My favorite thing to do is hang out with friends - they are the good influence I need in my life.