Rose Jean came to the United States from Haiti at the age of 18 with an 11th grade education. “I remember when I first came here, they didn’t want to take me in public high school because of my age, and I tried everything to get that high school diploma. I took the GED without being prepared for it and failed” remembers Jean. Jean had no high school credits and could barely speak English. She considered herself a “deaf mute girl” because “I couldn’t understand anything when people spoke to me in English” says Jean. A friend then told her about the Job Corps program to help her with her education and her future. SIATech Charter High School at Homestead Job Corps Center was her last hope.
The School for Integrated Academics and Technologies (SIATech) is an accredited public charter high school that offers students a unique learning experience. Through partnership with the federal Job Corps program, SIATech provides students the opportunity to complete their high school studies in a motivating, challenging, and technology-rich environment. In 1998, SIATech opened its first classrooms on a Job Corps center in California. Today, SIATech serves centers in Arizona, California, Florida and New Mexico. Together with the robust vocational and occupational training from Job Corps, SIATech graduates have what they need to succeed in a rapidly changing world.
At first, of course, the rigorous classes were difficult for Jean. The SIATech staff, however, kept encouraging her and eventually Jean passed both the FCAT and ACT Test. “I passed them not because I was the smartest student at SIATech, and not because I was popular at the school, but because I worked so hard for it. I stayed after class almost every day for tutoring. I practiced my reading by reading even more. Jean’s SIATech English Teacher, Ms. Marie Pharel (originally from Haiti) said of Jean “She always has a book in her hand and a smile on her face. She is so eager to learn and is a delight to have in class.” Ms. Andrea Loring, Principal at SIATech, always told Jean about how much reading will help her. Since then, Jean always has a book with her to read in her free time. Jean also has a strong trust in God and says “In life, you have to always put God first, think positive, be persistent, believe in yourself, and know that you can do anything if you really put your mind to it.” Jean attends a local English speaking church and evens prays in English to “get used to the language.”
Rose Jean’s belief in God and her own determination has paid off. On Friday, January 21, 2011 at 1PM, Rose Jean will deliver the Commencement Address to her fellow graduates at SIATech’s winter graduation ceremony.