“Pawahna lights up the room with her enthusiasm,” says Meghan, a counselor with the FSET program. Even though Pawahna has been a U.S. citizen for most of her life, she did not speak English well enough to earn her GED until joining the FSET program this year. She was a child when her family fled from Laos, and she left school after sixth grade to work at a strawberry farm. “My education opportunities were low, but my attitude and work ethic are very good,” she says. Together with FSET, Pawahna has found both the work she wanted and the opportunities she never knew were within her reach.
Pawahna is heading back to school this fall to earn her GED with a full-time job in a field she’s truly excited about. “She is beyond happy to be working in what she always wanted to do and now has hopes of obtaining her GED through FVTC and being able to advance in this career!” Meghan tells us. She and Pawahna formed a close team as soon as they met. They knew that the first step to a long-term career would be improving Pawahna’s English language skills.
“Meghan works so hard. She really cares,” says Pawahna. “She found an excellent volunteer opportunity that allowed me to work with people from different cultures and helped me use my English in a work setting.” Meghan used her connections to help Pawahna start volunteering at both Riverview Gardens and the Literacy Council, where Pawahna was also a student. FSET also helped Pawahna enroll in ELL classes at FVTC, including paying for her books and gas vouchers to get to class.
“Attending ELL at FVTC allowed me to be at a college that works hard to make people ready for work,” Pawahna says. She was hoping to start in facilities and maintenance, because she loves cleaning and knows it’s a place where she can move up. When Pawahna’s FSET team told her about a job fair at FVTC featuring Cintas, Pawahna leapt at the chance. She practiced interviewing with Meghan, attended the fair, was called back for interviews, and got the job!
“I have gained a lot of confidence in my future,” says Pawahna. She plans to study for her GED classes each morning before work and is staying with FSET while she finishes school. Congratulations!