Alumnus Reflects on Time in Enroot

Enroot alumnus Jean emigrated from Haiti in 2005 half way through the school year at the request of his father, who was eager for him to access a better education. When he arrived he spoke almost no English and lived with his aunt, who did not speak any Creole or French. This made communication with his official guardian extremely limited.

Jean also had major challenges transitioning to his new school, since he did not know any other students and had such limited English. For the first few months instead of going to the cafeteria for lunch, he wandered the halls and sat on a bench out of site.

“I had lunch money but I couldn’t go get it since I didn’t speak any English and I didn’t know how to order. So I would just go sit on a bench. I didn’t know anybody. I was afraid – what if I say the wrong thing, order the wrong food – what if they don’t understand me. I did this for my first 2-3 months.”

Jean was welcomed into the Enroot program a few months after arriving and participated for 2 and half years and graduated in 2008. As part of his Enroot experience, Jean worked as an intern at the Cambridge Finance Department for two years in Cambridge City Hall, helping residents over the phone and in person with information about taxes and water bills. Excited about a career in this area, he attended the University of Massachusetts at Boston and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Finance. During college, he was able to use the connections he made and skills he developed as an Enroot student to obtain a part-time position in the Finance Department in the City of Cambridge. After graduating he was hired full-time in their Auditing Department. Last year Jean was proud to be awarded "2017 Outstanding City Employee of the Year" by Cambridge City Manager Louis D. Pasquale, who had helped supervise Jean years ago as an Enroot intern.

Jean credits Enroot for his understanding of how to work in an office and how to be a professional. He also said his mentor was pivotal in this phase of life, as an adult he worked closely with over 2.5 years and who helped him navigate key parts of the post-secondary process, like the college essay and selection process.

“The top two things I’ve learned at Enroot are to believe in yourself and that teamwork is very important. Starting with my internship through Enroot, I was able to learn how to work in an office and how to be professional. In our meetings at Enroot I’ve also learned a lot from guests that came to help us understand what it takes to be a professional. After my internship at the finance department, they offered me a part time job as an intern, with my body of work which I’ve learned from my days at Enroot I was able to get a full time job at the Auditing Department. My advice (to current students) is to be patient, believe in yourself and know that at Enroot you have an amazing group of people who genuinely care for you and will get the best out of you.”
— Jean, Enroot Alumnus Class of 2008
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Read more about how Enroot supports immigrant students like Jean in building strong social and emotional skills in a feature by United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.