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Montgomery College Student Success Stories

A Sense of Pride: Brother and Sister Make It Work
Montgomery College Today, Fall '03

Karla and Reyes Rodriguez with their friend and mentor Anna Perez.Karla and Reyes Rodriguez wanted to pay for college themselves. So the brother and sister from El Salvador each worked 30 to 40 hours a week, much of the time at the offices of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, while attending Montgomery College-Germantown as full-time students.

As she has done informally with other international students, Anna Perez, Germantown admissions associate, remembers that the siblings “would come and ask me questions, tell me their concerns, and I would tell them they were going to make it.” The toughest part was the new language. “It’s hard to work, write papers, and take exams in a different language,” said Reyes. After a couple of pages of her first English 101 essay, Karla cried. “I didn’t have anything else to say—no ideas, no vocabulary,” she recalled in now-flawless English. But she persisted and got an A in the class. “We had that goal to graduate and make our parents proud.” The Rodriguezes met faculty, students, and staff from around the world on the Germantown Campus. “In my country, we all have the same culture,” Reyes said. Talking, making jokes, hanging out, eating different foods, dealing with religious perspectives from other countries “was not what we were used to.”

Karla and Reyes graduated this past May, earning five scholarships between them to continue their education. They are now enrolled at UMUC majoring in human resources and business administration, respectively. Each plans to develop a career with the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

“We worked hard for this education,” concluded Reyes. “We want others to know what
we went through—and maybe that will encourage them.”