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Cape Verde native reaping
rewards of her determination
May 16, 2014
When Indira Reid was 18 years old, she embarked with her older sister on a journey to an entirely unknown world. On the other side of the trip was the United States, and her mother, whom she hadn’t seen since she was a young girl after she left her four daughters behind in Cape Verde.
Reid, now 31, said that the transition to her new life was extremely hard. The language barrier was initially an issue for her. And even as she excelled at Shea High School in Pawtucket, she felt as though her mother was a stranger, and when her father, with whom she also had a tumultuous relationship, moved to the U.S. from Portugal, the two kicked her out of the house.
“I had to start working. I needed to pay my bills. I had to find and pay for an apartment,” she said.
She had to forgo plans for college, instead using her time to work long hours at Dunkin’ Donuts – sometimes 6 a.m. to midnight – for little pay. But when you ask Reid if it was all worth it, she smiles, no doubt thinking of her own son, Aiden, and her husband, Nathan, as well as the fact that she is graduating from the Community College of Rhode Island with a degree in General Studies and a 3.6 GPA and moving on to Rhode Island College.
“I wouldn’t have had this opportunity in Cape Verde,” the Pawtucket resident said. “After graduating high school, a lot of people have nothing to do after that. And I’ve always wanted to go to school, have a career and a family of my own. Now I know how it feels to have that family.”
Reid said that it was Aiden who motivated her to return to college, and who continues to be the driving force behind all she accomplishes, even when it feels like scaling mountains. When Reid began her journey at CCRI, Aiden was only 1.
“We were struggling financially,” she said. “I didn’t want to give this life to my son.” She said that she realized that the only way for her to make a better life for Aiden and for her family as a whole was to go back and get the education that she was missing, and this is what pushed her through the long hours of classes – plus shifts at Dunkin’ Donuts and eventually at Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro, Mass.
“He’s the most caring person,” she said of Aiden, now almost 6. “He’s my motivation to do everything I would have to do just so he doesn’t have to go through half the things I went through. He helps me. When it gets rough, all I have to do is look at his smile, and it’s good enough for me to go on with my day.”
The bright future that Reid has dreamed of for herself and for her family is now within reach. After initially thinking she wanted to pursue certification in sonography, she spent time speaking with her advisers in the Access program exploring different options. She knew she wanted to help people, and have a one-on-one relationship with patients.
To make sure she had a good sense of what it would be like to work in a hospital setting, she sought out an internship at Sturdy, where she now works exclusively as a paid employee after leaving her job at Dunkin’ Donuts last semester to take classes full time. Once she takes two remaining prerequisites at RIC, she will be able to apply to its nursing program. Eventually, she might want to be a physician’s assistant, she said.
“I think that helping people gives your life a purpose and a meaning,” she said. “I figure if I’m working in health care, it’s giving back, and making a difference in other people’s lives.”
In the meantime, Reid’s determination has certainly made a difference in her own life – and the life of her family. She will graduate alongside a younger sister, Tracy Pereira. The two are the first people in their family to go to college, and although they don’t have much, they always look for opportunity to send food, money and clothes back to their two sisters who remain in Cape Verde.
“It’s very different there,” said Reid, who noted that her sisters in Cape Verde are without jobs and the opportunities that she has had here stateside.
The pressure of supporting a young family – and family farther afield – may be too much for many, but it hasn’t stopped Reid as she’s continued to climb to greater heights. “I’ve always been a motivated person, and I’ve known that education is the only way out of poverty. And when I put my mind to something, I can’t stop until I do it. There’s nothing behind me, so I have to keep going forward to get to where I want to be,” she said.
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