Immigration is difficult. This may go without being said, but imagine coming to a country with a dream, but then landing only to realize that dream is seemingly impossible to achieve. The United States, specifically Washington, D.C., is a destination point – a greener pasture for which families can escape grievances to start a better life for themselves. While it may be true opportunities exist in this country, the ability to find and obtain them comes with many challenges. From the beginning, CentroNía sought to alleviate this stress for newcomers by providing assistance and resources to make transitioning easier.

Shalinee immigrated to D.C. in 2007 to join her loving husband and reunite her two children with their father. Their son was entering kindergarten at the time of the move and their daughter was two years old – not yet old enough to enter preschool. They lived in an apartment building near Columbia Heights, not far from CentroNía. Eager to find work but without an Employment Authorization Card, Shalinee began volunteering with a local public school and enrolled in classes in an adult education program where she eventually obtained a Child Development Associate (C.D.A.) certification.

After three years, having since acquired authorization to work, Shalinee needed to renew her certification. She joined the CentroNía C.D.A. renewal program. The C.D.A. program provides training to individuals seeking a career in Early Childhood Education. The program immerses students through instructional workshops taught by dedicated – qualified coaches and offers hands-on experience with real students and teachers. Alongside her classmates, eager to begin a career in Early Childhood Education, Shalinee graduated and renewed her certificate to educate young children and join the team of PreK4 teachers at CentroNía for summer camp!

“As a mother I wanted the best for my children and to be a role model – learning right by their side and being a student right along with them.”

With dreams of becoming a science teacher, Shalinee sought support from CentroNía’s Family Center in updating her résumé. Shalinee, like many families in our community, was able to work with a representative from College Board through the Family Center who provided resources to validate her college transcripts from India. Because of the resources provided by the Family Center, Shalinee found work as a science teacher in an elementary school for one academic year. Although this role was fulfilling, Shalinee jumped at an opportunity to work withCentroNía’s Studio R.O.C.K.S. after school program. She has been a teacher with us for almost three years and most recently is teaching Kindergarten and 1st graders after school and over summer break. Shalinee is also looking to volunteer to help more families like hers in our community.

“With the C.D.A. renewal classes and support validating my college transcripts ~ CentroNía provided a foundation for me and my family to thrive.”

Shalinee, like many in our community, was able to improve her life and her family’s through the programs and services we provide. Washington, D.C. is a hub for immigration and CentroNía is proud to be able to support those who need it most as they transition into a new environment. Many barriers exist but with help they can be overcome and dreams can become reality. Shalinee and her family are a wonderful example of this and her story is one of many to inspire our mission to educate children and families every day.

“My passion is to teach science for elementary schools. CentroNía is a wonderful place, and I hope I can continue my career here once I am a licensed science teacher.”