What did it take for you to get up and invest in your education at CU? Give us your testimony!

I always wanted to go back to college and get my bachelor degree. I needed something that was flexible and could relate to work that I been doing over the last 10 years. I wanted to know that I was part of something and just not another person in class taken a course. I wanted to create and discover new things and fail without being judge or shut down. Being part of the group at CU has made higher education sexy for adults who want to get a bachelors degree. Once the chance came to be a part of CU I jump to the opportunity to see what the program will do for me. At the beginning of CU and getting started with classes, it was a challenge to get back into the flow of school. But after that I was able to get in a good groove of the student life.
My main reason was to complete one of my goals and of course educate myself, plus one day make more money. But since then it has help me grow as a student and a better person. The road I have been on over the last few years has been stressful and CU been there for me. We have become family.


I can remember the first time I passed out flyers in my neighborhood advertising my service for babysitting. All of the small children in my neighborhood wanted me to play because I am silly and I love to dance. I have a gift. A gift that put smiles on the faces of the very small. When I was 12 years old my mom told me I could get a lucrative business started if I had the right message and price. That was many years ago. Although I never started my own business I still had the drive and energy to work with small children. As an adult I heard the calling for teaching early childhood and have decided to make a career out of it.
At 23 I came to RI to visit my mother in 1995 while my husband served his last seven month deployment tour with the US Navy. While waiting for him to return I took care of my growing three year old and my growing belly. How things changed for me. My husband left us in RI. Said he didnt want to be married anymore. So, My baby born, my husband gone and now homeless, I found myself divorced and raising two little girls on my own. To take care of myself and my girls, I found employment at several small early childhood schools in RI but nothing captures my interest. I found myself hopping around from center to center looking for the right place to work. I finally found the perfect job teaching at this little school house in Providence RI did. This school has the most dedicated teachers and the most engaged families that I’ve ever met. At 27 I found not just a job but an extended family. My director at the time, Leslie Gell, really had trust in my abilities to do an effective job as a lead teacher even without my degree. Leslie had faith in me which helped me to have faith in myself. Parents talked about our teaching and waited in line to send their kids to our school because the word of mouth is powerful in Providence. Time passed I’m now 40 and I have seen great teachers come and go. My director Leslie also left leaving a position open for Chris Amirault to take. He too is an amazing director with goals for the school and the staff to continue to be on top of the world in early childhood education. BFP was one of the first schools in Providence to get a five star rating from Bright Stars and I felt that I had a hand in that. With all of the success of the school I still felt that I needed something more. Leslie and Chris have always wanted the best for me. At least this is what I feel. It’s almost as if they are my parents. Which reminds me of how I feel about that.

My mother has her Masters in Education. Even though she grew up very poor and without her own mothers guidance, my mother has done very well for herself. My mother was college bound even after giving birth to me because her mother took care of me while she was living on campus. My mother later joined the Army and i stayed with my grandma a bit longer. my mother later got her masters while serving. My story is a little different from her’s. At 20 I married my high school boyfriend and was pregnant with my first daughter in my first year of college, I couldn’t finish school and have my daughter at the same time. I needed to make a choice so I stayed home with her. A few years later, now 23 I found myself pregnant again. My mother pushed me to go back to school after my divorce. But the road was hard for me. I didn’t have a grandmother to watch my girls for me while I stayed on campus. I needed to work, I needed to pay for child care and rent. I really wanted to be there for my girls instead of always too busy. College was out of the question. For a long, long time.

In May of this year, I was working in the office at my school gathering information and uploading documentation for TSG. Chris reserved a phone call, I heard the whole thing. He said, “Hi Leslie. Yup. She’s here I will talk with her today and get back to you. Thanks for calling.” He asked Donna for my whereabouts and I said, “I’m in here!” He came into the office space where I was working, closed the door and sat down. We talked about the state of RI moving towards having all preschool teachers obtain their bachelors degrees by 2014. He told me about a program designed for working teachers who have tons of experience in the field but no degrees. That this program will help them get their degree very quickly but it will take lots of work. He told me about the Open House meeting at R2LP and that I should go. It all sounded too good to be true and I had to find out for myself so I went. I saw Leslie who now works as director at R2LP, she came up to me and gave me a big hug. I miss working with her everyday. She was really the one who saw me for who I truly am. I saw Christine who said, “This program is perfect for you!” She gave me a hug too. I sat down at a table, alone but excited. Then they spoke. Adam and Dennis talked about the benefits of College Unbound, the success of Phyllis who was also there to speak. I couldn’t believe my ears! I couldn’t wait to tell my mom! I couldn’t wait to start!

College Unbound has changed my life. I am so grateful for all the people in my life who cares enough for me to see me do well. I can’t allow slip-ups to stop me now. I am focused on me. It’s my turn. I have seen too much. I now know too much. I feel confident in my abilities now to talk with my peers about what we do. There is no going back, I’ve come too far to turn back now. I feel empowered and motivated because of college. When I am around the women in my cohort, I want to talk more about what it is that drives me. I am excited beyond words for my future.


Awesome work @ajay and @Gina. This is good stuff to play with, and I have a bunch of questions for you, but I am hoping to hear from some other people, too!

How can I find there emails to add them? I did the @ there names and it didn’t work from the invite button. let me know what I can do.

Hey @ajay if you go to the page that has all the topics, you can click onto someone’s square and that will take you to their profile (or a little brief version of their profile will show up when you hover your mouse) and then from there you should be able to send a private message.

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Here are the original questions @ajay posed:

What did it take for you to get up and invest into your education at CU?
What is your main reason?
How do you feel now that you have started the journey at CU?
What does it feel like to be an adult learner?
Give us your testimony!

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i don’t know how to find emails @Tyler lol

Two years ago I looked in the mirror decided that I wanted to go back to school. I was 24 with two small children, a full-time job and a dream to become a proffesional musicain, a Hip Hop Artists to be more specific. When I was not locked in my recording studio untill 4am, I was at dance practice, working hard to perfect my skills as a Hip Hop dancer and choreographer. During the day, I spent all of my time running a Performance program and managing the recording record. Life was good, but I knew it could be better. Working for a local non profit hardley pays the bills and my kids were getting bigger. Any contributing parent knows that with each passing year comes higher price tags, more ibeprofeun and unmanagable amounts of stress. By age 17 I had two children. Yes, I was a teen mom. Not like the ones on MTV for a lot of reasons but still, a teen mom. Rasiing kids, going to work and pursuing music left ver littl etime for education. After graduationg Highschool I enrolled in CCRI and began taking classes here and there. Although I am an advocate for community college, I will say that at times it can felt like I would be grandmother before I attained my associates degree. Waiting on a bacherlors degree would send me into a reincarnated butterfly of some somesort.
Fast forwad 6 years and I realized that if I were to try school again, it would have to be thr ight school. It would have to be a school that understood that I am a working parent with dreams. Dreams that I would let get lost in the mundate manoteny of standardized test and western history that convently leaved people like me, out of the story. At age 24 I knew that I was ready to be in a relationship with my education but I also knew that my education would have to be ready to be in a long lasting, commited relationship with me.
A few months after meditatring on this idea of school, I bump into my frienjd and mentor Sam Sidel. Sam had been my mentor since I was about 14 years old. He used to be the direcotr of the spavce that I am now co-directing running: AS220 Youth (then called Broad Street Studio). Sam saw me grow and knew my struggle as well as any outsider could. I expressed mhy feeling about to school to him and he said that he wanted me to meet his friend Adam Bush. Apparently, Adam Bush was an educator in the community who worked with people like me, adults who had families, was passionate about doing community work and needed education to fit their weekly shedules.
I agreed to meeting with him. Almost immediatley Adam and I connected and decided to meet at the AS220 cafe. It was a beautful saturday afternoon. My kids Jaiden and Iycii decided to tag along. I remember being a bit nervous because I brought my kids with me to meet Adam. We parkked downtown anf headed over to AS220. When I got there Adam was already sitting down at one of the outside tables. “Hey Anjel! I’m Adam, nice to meet ya!”. At this point my kids were wound up on sugar and saturday afternoon fever. My anxiety was permeating off of my skin. “Hey Adam, I’m anjel”. We shook hands and sat down. “Hey man, whats your name?” Adam asked my son. “Jaiden!” my son said happily. “And how about you?” Adam said as he crouched down to my daughters height " I’m Iycii" she said shly. “Awesome! nice to meet you guys. Do you want to come with me to get some chips and soda, Mom you want anything?”
“no I’m good thank you, Are you sure you got it?” I used all of my change at the parking meter and didnt want to assume that he was going to pay for my kids snack. “Of course dude! come on kids!”.

The RIHHU believes that Hip Hop has the power to unify, uplift and positively transform our communities. We believe that lasting transformation will only be achieved through collective impact. Harnessing and exercising the power of collective impact will afford us the space and time to create one voice, one vision and a multitude of positive trajectories for the people in our communities.

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Well said, @anjelnewmann - thanks for putting this up so raw.

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The way that I got introduced to college unbound, most would consider a blessing. For a long time, my family had tried to figure out ways to get legal residency for both myself and them and during the end of my junior year at the Met we had calculated that my residency papers would finally go through. It was a very difficult time for me as a teenager because as others in my class would fill out college applications, I would just sit on the side lines watching them prepare for their future and trying to convince myself that perhaps God must have something else in-store for me. During my years at the Met high school, I worked a lot throughout the community spreading positive messages with my original musical compositions through an organization called Music One. I went out and sang at different community events as well as schools, representing not only myself as an artist but also The Met High School. Due to the simple fact that through the Met’s internship program was how I came to work with Music One.
At the beginning of my senior year, we still hadn’t heard back from the immigration office; every day I grew more and more concerned that I would not get a chance to go to college. After all I had worked for, always having to stay two steps ahead of everyone else, I couldn’t believe that this was how it would all end. Everyone in my family as well as in school had big expectations for me. I decided to reach out to my mentor, Terrell Osborne. Though many times he didn’t have an exact answer for me, he gave me relieve and hope that things would turn out exactly as they were meant to. Months passed and all the applications had been sent out, except of course for mine. Although there were schools that had heard about the work that I was doing and they requested interviews with me, to which I went to but they would all end the same. They didn’t offer financial aid for non-residents, and scholarships were hard to come by.
Finally two months before school was over, Terrell told me that he might have a solution, he had talked to the founder of the Met Dennis Littky, who was also in the process of constructing a college; when Terrell told Dennis about my situation, he didn’t hesitate to find a plan. Dennis contacted his connections and coordinated a way to get me a full ride to College Unbound, while I figured out my papers. This opened up so many doors for me. The system was very similar to that of The Met so I knew I would understand it. And the people were so welcoming, I felt at home soon after orientation had passed. Ever since then, I’ve had a wonderful support group. A team of people that are willing to see me succeed no matter what it takes. I value everything that Dennis has done for me. College Unbound gave me chance at higher education, when no other colleges would.

What did it take for you to get up and invest into your education at CU?
I first heard about CU from a two co-workers who knew I was attending RIC in order to finish my degree. They told me I would be able to complete my degree quicker and the cost was more affordable. I was really apprehensive because if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. I’m not going to lie; I blew them off at first, which of course they knew. They invited me to an open house and I went. I was sold instantly. Shortly thereafter I applied to the program.
What is your main reason? The main reason I came to CU was I needed to complete my degree in order to keep my job and I needed to get it done quickly. The job I was hired for required a Bachelor’s Degree and the company hired me under the stipulation that I get my degree in a year. It took me a little longer as there were issues with the colleges who were backing CU. I truly hope CU becomes an accredited college.
How do you feel now that you have started the journey at CU? The journey was stressful, but college in general is stressful. I learned more at CU than I ever did in a lecture hall because of the project work. I learned so much not only from my project, but from my colleagues projects as well. I am happy to say I GRADUATED in 2014!! CU changed my life.
What does it feel like to be an adult learner? College as an adult learner is a unique experience. When I went to school in my late teens early twenties, I was not so interested in learning…I just wanted to get it over with. As an adult learner, I am more interested in learning and applying that knowledge.
Give us your testimony! Since graduation I not only got to keep my job, but I got a promotion with a salary increase. However, that was not the most important thing. I always felt like a failure because I did not finish my degree. I feel like a new person!


Going back to school was always on my agenda. Seeing once I got pregnant that someone told me my life was over. I couldn’t settle for that, that just wasn’t sitting well with me. I knew I had to make a better life for my kids. Once CU was brought to my attention, I felt like it was my only choice. I knew I didn’t want to take one to two classes for the next 7 years. I knew that I wouldn’t go through with that. So once CU offered part time schooling for a full time degree I knew it was for me. I also loved the smaller class support. We all became like family throughout the years. I know if I need a classmate or if they needed me we was and are there for each other. That is one of the main reasons why I am still at CU. I am glad I put my education in their hands, so far so good. I hope to continue to be part of the CU family even once I’m finished.

Hooray College Unbound


Thanks so much @Marggines for this!

  1. What did it take for you to get up and invest into your education at CU?

I wanted to better myself. I wanted to show that I am a professional in my work environment and to maintain a sense of respect for myself as I pushed my own daughters on to college after high school. I couldn’t tell them they had to go to college and there I was, a high school graduate satisfied with that diploma? No! I needed to show them that I too was motivated to get my degree as well!

  1. What is your main reason?
    Part of my reasoning is to maintain my job security. I need a College diploma in order to stay in my current position. I’ve worked at BFP for 16 years and I didn’t want to have to say goodbye because I didn’t have my degree. There had been some confusion and miscommunication between me and my director regarding my degree. I wanted to show them that they could fire me because I don’t have my degree right now but i’m working on it. At this point getting my degree is inevitable! I WILL get my degree and if they don’t want me to stay, I will find a job someplace else. I know many people in the early childhood field who would hire me.So, I thought about that also as a motivating tool. Getting my degree would allow me to also get higher wages!

  2. How do you feel now that you have started the journey at CU?
    I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot! I understand it’s not easy to get what you want. My mother has always told me that it’s going to get harder before it gets easier and she’s absolutely right. Not saying that CU was hard for me, it wasn’t. It was time-consuming mostly. It was putting myself first and putting others like my kids and husband second which is really hard for me to do.

  3. What does it feel like to be an adult learner?
    It’s a bit strange! Sometimes I reflect back on the decisions I made when I was in my early 20s. I weighed a lot of options back then. Back in 1992 I was 20 years old. I should’ve been a sophomore in college but instead, I became a wife and a mother. I do not regret making that decision; however, I feel that I could’ve had my degree by now. Lots of people say to me that I’m a good mom. I feel that I’ve worked really hard to raise good citizens and respectful children. It’s not easy. I really value life and love and family! However I also value education. The part of me that thinks back on my 20s is the part of me that feels a little selfish today. The part of me that is putting myself first for college reasons. Should I have put myself first back in the 90s? I’m not so sure, I look at my daughter Sage. She’s so beautiful inside! Such a wonderful person. I don’t think I would’ve had a chance to be her mother if I had made a different decision back in those days. In my mid 20s I gave birth to my second daughter Taylor. I felt a little more stable after she was born. Even though my marriage was on the rocks, I found a stable job at Brown Fox Point. I found housing for us. It became my life’s norm. I was a single mother. I started acting the part. We called ourselves “The Driggers Girls”. We had special family nights and friends over for dinner. “Girls only” sleep ins meaning the cat could not come! Pancakes for dinner! Video game nights. Camping trips to Vermont and long drives down to Virginia each year. It was an amazing adventure! I would do it all over again if given the chance. So, being an adult learner feels like to me, like I’m that young girl who I was back in the 90s. Curious about life, curious about adventures, wanting more for myself! It feels like a new beginning! I’m sad to see the common life Norm passed me by, however, I am thrilled to find out with this new adventure of “Empty Nester” gets to experience as a college student! So far it’s great! Now finishing this up, onto my masters.

That is my testimony! Thank you for asking those wonderful questions. They help me to reflect back on why I started at CU and what I might want to do in the future.

Awesome testimonials! I’m getting all choked up and stuff. It’s real. Thank you CU!!

What brought me to CU. Was a belief that I could actually complete a personal goal in which I had long been put out of my mind. I had to returned to school so many times, different school or changes to my course of study for so many reasons. There were many conflicting obstacles in my life with the kids my family, there was always something.
I heard about the CU first through my director. She had recently ask me to think about the program called T.E.A.C.H. After looking at this program I was not sure it was something that would work for me. It had a lot repetitive courses that I would be required to take again.
I went to meeting given by Dennis linsky where he spoke about College Unbound. He gave information about how to obtain a degree in less time, the pros and cons, steps that I would need to take benefits to entering the program.
In this program I was giving the chance to join a community of adults learning. To develop new learning techniques and flourish in this new environment, surrounded by my peers. This opportunity allowed me to encourage others and to become a role model to my family, friends and co-workers.
In this program I develop new relationship along with a network of friends and people in the community. This program was a good opportunity which helped me get myself back on the right track. It enhanced my job performance as well a promotion at my place of employment.
The College Unbound was definitely a experience, there were some up and downs. Times where it really was difficult between juggling work, school, homework and my household. I have to say the support from peers as well as teachers and the program made it possible to succeed.
It took a lot of courage to invest in this program as well as money. I really think it was me being afraid to fail at such a big task. There were times I would spends many sleepiness nights up doing homework, just show my children that hard work would pay off

Thanks for your post @pyguinn - I’m glad to hear you were able to find an opportunity that was different than TEACH if that wasn’t a good fit for you!

Thanks for posting two substantial responses @Gina. I’m not sure if you meant to, but we appreciate it!