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International student studies for a career in business

Moraima Gutierrez came to the United States for a better life, and the Community College of Rhode Island is helping her find it.

Gutierrez grew up and was educated in the Dominican Republic, where she earned a technical degree in business and accounting. She worked there for four years as an English teacher.

She joined her half-sister in America in 2008 after her father died.

“I moved to the U.S. and the U.S. showed me that there is hope,” Gutierrez said. “If you work hard, you will succeed.”

She first came to CCRI in 2008 to take a GED® test. Although she already had a degree she earned in the Dominican Republic, she wanted an American credential and the practice with the English language that studying high school subjects would provide.

“After that, I was working multiple jobs at once trying to put my life together, and last year I decided, ‘I have to go back to college. If I don’t do it now it’s not going to happen.’”

Gutierrez returned to CCRI at her sister’s suggestion, this time to take college courses.

“It was very hard in the beginning because I was facing the challenge of another language, something that’s very difficult,” she said. “People will never understand how hard it is to say words using phonetics that you don’t even have [in your native language].”

Moraima Gutierrez Soon, Gutierrez was exposed to CCRI’s Connect to College (C2C) Program, which matches students with the resources they need to complete their education. Gutierrez took English language courses and has her own counselor who helps her with everything from signing up for classes to filling out financial aid forms.

“The fact that CCRI offers that program to new students … is great because that allows you to get into college but at the same time have success in college and actually graduate,” Gutierrez said. “CCRI offers any kind of help you need. If you look for it, CCRI has it.”

Gutierrez particularly thanked Hope Schacter, project director of the C2C program. “She makes me feel safe in college,” she said. “It’s something I didn’t think I could find in a college.”

Gutierrez is studying business, which has always been her passion, and wants to go on to the University of Rhode Island to study international business.

“I love business because [it] allows you to create and be yourself,” she said. “You can come up with an idea and make it work and make money out of it.”

She added, “I also love languages and cultures and getting to know different people from all over the world.”

Gutierrez hopes to own her own business one day.

CCRI is a great place to start a higher education, Gutierrez said, no matter who you are, where you come from or what you want to do. She said she has had great professors who emphasize real-world experience.

“Most of the professors here, if they’re teaching something, they’ve actually done it. It’s not only theory,” she said.

Gutierrez has had economics professors with years of banking experience, and her favorite theater instructor, Assistant Professor Luke Sutherland, has experience outside of the classroom directing plays. She said her professors emphasize hands-on learning,

“It’s something you’re not going to learn in a classroom,” she said. “It’s something you have to go out there and do.”

Gutierrez hopes to graduate from CCRI in 2014. She said the college has given her the opportunity to pursue her dream.

“If you’re thinking about coming to CCRI,” she said, “stop thinking and come to CCRI.”


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Last Updated: 8/13/13