Alumni of the Year
Mika, David and Miriam Grand, The siblings
Good evening; President Shchegol, distinguished guests, faculty, staff and the graduating Class of 2018. First and foremost, we want to express how thankful we are to be here tonight. We want to thank God for letting us accomplish part of our dreams and ASA College for playing an important role in our success. As immigrants, things are not easy when it comes to success. However, the efforts and results taste better when you realize that despite the xenophobia occurring towards our community, we never gave up on our dreams. It takes courage and positive attitude to overcome obstacles in order to succeed. There were times when my siblings and I would say “this is too hard, let’s just work anywhere and avoid the struggle we’re going through” but then reality would hit us and we’d realize that we are not quitters. Our Mom always believes in us and pushes us over our limits to do better. Our Dad and siblings also supported us each step of the way. That feeling of family support made us work extra hard to accomplish this important step in our lives.
We’d like to thank ASA College and the Alumni Association for letting us stand at this podium before all of you and share a little bit of our story. Our Mom was watching the news and heard about ASA College and the opportunities afforded to immigrants looking for a better life and academic success. Soon after, my siblings and I decided to visit the Manhattan campus to get more information. You can say God is great because ASA gave us the hope and encouragement we needed and we decided to enroll.
Not knowing what to expect, we decided to take the risk. ASA Admission made us feel comfortable and aware of how hard the journey would be. We can only thank God for letting us take that risk because now we are here, proud and honored to be chosen as Alumnus of the year.
During our career path we faced many struggles such as distance (2 hours away from home back and forth everyday), limited time to do our assignments, sleepless nights, among others, since we were working full time and going to college full time. Honestly, I can say all these struggles paid off in the end when we received the great news that we were going to graduate. It was truly such a great feeling and joyous moment, not only for my siblings and myself, but for our entire family.
We are part of a big family, being the three middle children out of seven, not all of us had the same opportunity to attend college. However, we always helped and supported each other regardless of hardships. Thanks to DACA, 3 of us were able to attend college. It is a great program that gives immigrant children the opportunity to obtain education and become sustainable. Being immigrant is not a bad thing even though we have been made to feel that way most of our lives. When ASA told us that we qualified for this aid, we felt like we truly belonged. For once, we felt like we could actually embrace our roots and not be ashamed.
During our journey, ASA Career services helped us in an efficient manner; not only training us for actual job interviews but also giving us the needed tools to succeed. Career Services helped each of us to find gainful employment upon graduation, and we are proud to report we are still employed in these organization. Miriam works for an insurance company in Madison Avenue as an Underwriting Assistant, David works for a private bank in Wall Street as a Financial Analyst, and I work for a real commercial estate company near the Empire State Building as an Accounts Receivable Representative. ASA College contacts us from time to time to make sure things are going great. We genuinely appreciate that because it shows that ASA cares about their students on their path to graduation and beyond!
As an immigrant, there has always been that fear of not being able to finish our career path and most importantly, the fear knowing our family can be separated at any given time. It does not matter if we are close or far apart, we always support and push each other over our limits to do better and accomplish our goals. ASA became part of this family, they opened unexpected doors for us and encouraged our education even when we felt overwhelmed and helpless. Despite the struggles we faced as immigrants, God has always been with us and has provided what we needed and ASA College was the vessel that helped us achieve a higher education.
DACA program has been an important part of our success as professionals. If the program is terminated, not only will my siblings and I suffer, but also a major part of our community. We won’t just lose the opportunity to keep growing academically or professionally, a lot of dreams will be crushed. DACA has been a crucial part of the success of many immigrants in this country. It has helped us dream and achieve part of our goals to have a better life for ourselves and our families. Unfortunately, not everyone will have the same luck as us and for that, we must lend them a helping hand just as ASA College did for the Grande Siblings.
We must have faith that things will work out, we must help our peers to the best of our ability, and we must keep working hard to achieve our dreams. Keep taking those opportunities; even those that make you fear failure. Keep dreaming; no dream is ever too little or too big. Keep working hard; for good things take time, dedication and commitment. If you are willing to give it all you will succeed! No one will ever be able to take your education away from you.
Once again, thank you GOD and ASA College for the great opportunity given to us and to our fellow graduates. Do not be afraid to take the next step! Paulo Coelho once said, “The world lies in the hands of those who have the courage to dream and who take the risk of living out their dreams – each according to his or her own talent.” Be persistent with your education, do not stop here, because it’s all worth it in the end. From my siblings and I to you, Congratulations! in this great day of your life, keep fighting for your dreams and goals and always remember SI SE PUEDE!!!YOU CAN DO IT!!!