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Michelle’s Story

Michelle, a 20-year-old from Haiti, was referred to Advocates for Children of New York (AFC)’s Immigrant Students’ Rights Project by the Flanbwayan Haitian Literacy Project, a community group in Brooklyn that serves Haitian immigrant students. Michelle emigrated from Haiti shortly after the earthquake. She had to leave one month short of finishing high school due to family and medical circumstances. Upon arriving in New York City, she spoke very little English. However, she was goal-oriented and wanted to finish high school, learn English, and enter college as soon as possible. Flanbwayan did not know of a school that would be willing to accept Michelle. Many schools reject older English Language Learners like Michelle because of the limited time they have to educate older students. (NYC students are entitled to an education until they graduate, or turn 21 years old.)

An AFC staff attorney helped Michelle understand her educational options and advised her on the differences between pursuing a Regents diploma versus a GED diploma. Michelle chose to pursue a GED diploma. AFC found Michelle a GED preparation program she could attend with other recent Haitian immigrants and she prepared to take the GED test in French. She completed the program and passed the GED test, including the most difficult Canadian History and English Writing sections.

Michelle is currently enrolled in Borough of Manhattan Community College, where she is studying human services. She plans to become a social worker.