Faces of NDEC
Suhey Martinez has always stressed the importance of getting an education to her children. “I’ve always told them education is key. It’s the best thing they can do to improve their life.”
But when her oldest daughter, Beyonce, earned a full scholarship to Emerson College in Boston, Suhey says, “I started to feel like a hypocrite. I’m telling them they need to go to school, make good grades, find a good career. And I didn’t even have my GED!”
Although Suhey had always wanted to earn a high school diploma, balancing work and family life made it hard for the mother of three to attend classes in a traditional setting. “But once the pandemic started, I thought I’d see if I could find a school near me,” she says. “When I looked online and saw that NDEC was offering online classes, I said, ‘This is perfect. I can just get up and go to school.’” She started in “boot camp” in Summer 2020.
Unstinting support from teachers Leslie Feeney, Adam Berndt, and Elaine Fallon also helped. “They are great,” says Suhey. “They are so patient, and they go above and beyond to make sure we understand.” She also received plenty of help with working on practice tests and scheduling her exams.
A barista at Wentworth Tech, Suhey plans to enter the medical field as soon as she completes the final two tests for her GED. “For adults who are trying to finish school, I think NDEC is the best choice,” she says. “The teachers made me feel comfortable and made me want to attend class. That is awesome.”
It’s just opened so many doors for me,” says Frank Villanueva of his HiSET high school credential. “It gets me to the places I want and need to be in life.”
A graduate of NDEC’s Adult HiSET Program, Frank learned about NDEC from a teacher at his brother’s high school. Based on that teacher’s recommendation, Frank did his research, took the HiSET placement test to determine the classes he needed, and the rest, as they say, is history. “The classes were great, and they really prepared me well for the exam,” says the Malden resident. “I also have to thank Adam Berndt (Youth Education Services and Adult Education Services Specialist). He was a fantastic teacher and I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.”
It wasn’t as easy as Frank makes it sound. When the Center switched to remote learning, he was faced with the challenge of maintaining enough employment to support himself and his family, while continuing to progress academically. “At one point, Frank was working long hours as a delivery driver for Amazon,” shares Adam. “But he still carved out time to take and review HiSET practice tests. He was focused, dedicated, and an extremely personable classmate. His perseverance was truly extraordinary.’
While at NDEC, Frank also learned the value of networking and forming relationships with people. In fact, networking led him to his job as a salesman for Vision Solar, a company that sells solar panels.
“To be quite honest, I’m still figuring out my future plans,” says Frank. “I’m looking into my options for going back to school and earning an associate’s degree. I’m going to continue to work hard and research the different paths that I have.
“I couldn’t be more grateful for this opportunity and for all that NDEC has done for me.”
Anne Marguerite Auguste
It was easy for Anne Marguerite Auguste to decide to attend NDEC. Her sister Lamercie had taken classes at the Center, too. “She said the teachers were wonderful, she was learning a lot, and she was very happy,” says Anne Marguerite. “It was really the only choice for me.”
A native of Haiti, Anne Marguerite worked as a journalist in that country for 20 years. She’s covered important events and met dignitaries such as former French Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande; Abdou Diouf, former President of Senegal; and former U.S. First
Lady Michelle Obama. She has also attended seminars and conferences at the White House. Today she studies ESOL and credits NDEC’s teachers for making it a good experience. “Every teacher is ready to help any student at any time,” she says. “That’s what makes NDEC so special.” Anne Marguerite’s hard work led to her being named an NDEC Ambassador in 2019. Anne Marguerite is still attending classes at NDEC. She intends to keep improving her English language skills. In the future, she hopes to own a cosmetics company.