At a high tea ceremony held Thurs., March 6, 2014, members of the campus community gathered together to honor the extraordinary lives and achievements of 13 outstanding female NVCC students. The awardees were nominated by faculty and staff whose lives have been inspired by their students’ strength, patience, commitment and endurance to persist both personally and academically.
As a community college, NVCC welcomes and supports students from all walks of life. The high tea event was established to recognize and acknowledge some of the profoundly challenging circumstances that fellow community members struggle through in order to receive a college education.
For Liliana Jimenez, 28, who emigrated from the Dominican Republic to Brooklyn, New York at the age of 8, her journey to academic achievement has seen many stops and starts over the course of her young life.
“When I was 21 and pregnant, I had what I call, a reaction to life,” she says, trying to describe an “epiphany” she had about an abusive relationship with her daughter’s father. “I was trying to decide whether to stay so my daughter would have a father, or leave and prove to her and myself that I could do it.”
One year after the birth of her daughter, Liliana began a process of separating herself from the problems around her. She moved to Waterbury with her sister and in 2013, Liliana graduated from Waterbury Adult Education and was the valedictorian. On graduation night, she shared her experience with her peers, something she hopes to do more of in the future, if it means helping other women.
Through Adult Ed, Liliana was connected with NVCC’s Community College Scholars (CCS) program, a summer cohort in which students take their First Year Experience (FYE) credits together, engage in workshops and go on weekly field trips. Though she had to withdraw mid-semester, the continued outreach of CCS coordinator Nicole Ariyavatkul and Professor Julia Petitfrere kept Liliana on track to her goals.
She re-enrolled at NVCC in fall 2013 and earned herself a 4.0 GPA, as well as some well-deserved recognition at this year’s Women’s History Month honors for all that she has overcome. Now in her second semester, Liliana is working on her prerequisites toward the radiology program and will apply next January.
Liliana’s story is just one of a dozen more that were heard at this year’s High Tea ceremony, and we are grateful that she has allowed us to share it as one small snapshot of the adversity our students overcome in their journey toward academic success. This year the College recognized the following 13 outstanding women, who are pictured below: