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CCRI grad gets second chance at Bryant education
Student Success Story, May 18, 2012
For many of its students, the Community College of Rhode Island is just one stop on a longer journey. For Maderline Perez of Providence, it was an opportunity to pursue her dream.
Perez moved with her mother and sister from the Dominican Republic when she was 4 years old, joining her uncle and grandmother in Providence.
“We came for the same reason a lot of people come,” Perez said, “for the opportunity. My sister and I were already born and my mother thought she could raise us better over here.”
Perez’s father remained behind in the Dominican Republic and, with her mother working, Perez and her sister were often in the care of her grandmother.
“My mother had to be the mom and the dad,” Perez said. “Everything she did or didn’t do was to sacrifice and set a good example for us.”
Perez, 19, does not remember the trip to America but can still remember the distinct, almost smoky smell of the Dominican Republic. She visits frequently but has built a life for herself in the United States.
A strong math student, Perez became interested in accounting while she was attending Classical High School in Providence, partly inspired by observing the financial decisions of her family and the other immigrant families in her neighborhood.
“I saw how my family struggled financially … everything was so different that they couldn’t adapt to it,” Perez said. “My goal is to help the people here in the community plan their financial future.”
Perez did a lot of volunteering in her community which helped her rule out several careers she had been considering, such as education and health care.
“When I decided to pick a career I knew it was something I would really like,” Perez said.
While in high school she applied to Bryant University’s accounting program because of its strong reputation among business schools, but was wait-listed.
“I was devastated,” Perez said. “I cried. I started thinking about my other options and started researching CCRI. I thought it would be the perfect stepping stone to get there.”
Perez took her first class at CCRI in 2010 and immediately noticed the college’s diversity.
“That showed me how important education should be to everyone,” Perez said. “I met people who could be as old as my parents but we were still in the same classes, struggling the same.”
Perez worked on the weekends throughout high school and college and took a second job at CCRI as a tutor in the Success Center.
“My best CCRI memories are from the Success Center,” Perez said. “When the students I was tutoring would come back and tell me they got an ‘A’ on their test, it was really rewarding.”
Perez was determined to graduate from CCRI in two years and took up to six classes at a time to make that happen.
“It was challenging but I knew it was for a good reason so I just powered through it,” she said.
Perez graduated on May 18 with a degree in General Business with a 3.43 GPA and has been accepted to Bryant University, where she will start classes this fall.
“It was such a change going from the wait-list letter to the one that said ‘Congratulations, you have been accepted …’” Perez said. “That one also made me cry a little.”
As it is for a lot of students, Perez said that CCRI was “the perfect stepping stone.
“I feel like a lot more people need to take this college seriously,” she said. “There are a lot of smart, competitive students here.”