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Our Journey – New England

Autumn in New England is well known for its beautiful foliage, crisp cool air, and mountain vistas located only a short drive from the city of Boston. The tipping of Earth on its axis and the changing of the sun’s light put a chill in the air and scarlet hues to the falling leaves. For many people who come to New England from other parts of the country and other parts of the world, Autumn is perhaps the best season to experience. For Jose “Roberto” Soares, moving to New England came with many opportunities and sacrifices along the way. His vision of building a life with his beautiful family took him first to Europe then to the U.S. which he now calls home away from home.

Roberto was born in Campinas, Sao Paulo which is home to three of the top universities in Brazil. After getting his degree, he acquired a job, got married and had a daughter. He then decided to move his young family- wife, Rosanna and daughter, Gabriella – from Sao Paulo to Italy. They settled in Milan, the fashion capital of the world. He held a position at the Consulate General of Brazil and at Banco do Brasil.

“The flame of adventure is always lit in this family…
our choice was to be close to Boston, in the wonderful state of Massachusetts.”

The family became Italian citizens and Roberto was beginning to feel settled-in to his new home. Roberto found the regions of Tuscany and Liguria to be his favorite places to bring his family, as they appreciated the scenic beauty of the amazing mountains, gorgeous blue waters and beaches. And then when Italy’s economy began to suffer and a recession loomed, Roberto knew it was time to once again move his family, this time to America. As he states, close friends who had settled in Massachusetts before Roberto and his family had so many wonderful things to say about New England. They were very impressed by the quality of life here, the region’s history and the great reputation that Massachusetts colleges and universities have nationally and globally.

Rosanna and Roberto’s daughter, Gabriella, is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in International Business and is fluent in Portuguese, English, Italian and Spanish. Roberto has been enrolled at Computer Systems Institute’s Worcester campus for over two years and is currently enrolled in the Business Career Program. He has also made many friends and enjoys learning about American culture. There are so many choices for someone looking to advance their education. “I am so fortunate to have found Computer Systems Institute, the quality of their programs, the support the instructors and staff, I am so impressed. I am planning to find a business opportunity that I can leverage my background and continue to gain real world experience.”

“New England has been a great place to experience this time in our lives,” states Roberto. New England is home to many great poets, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson who reportedly coined the phrase, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” For a family who began their journey back in Brazil, they would agree with Mr. Emerson.

Friendship Across Continents

Many students feel torn between pursuing their dreams in America and leaving their beloved families behind in their home countries. Of course, nothing will replace the bond students have with their families overseas. Nonetheless, Tian-Ying Meng, fondly known as Apple, and Olesya Timofeeva, two CSI students, have built a friendship that they treasure and take great pride in as if they have found a long-lost sister. When words of their new friendship traveled back to their homelands, their families tearfully rejoiced.

Tianying and Olesya met at CSI in the BCP program they both attended. Ever since they have been in the same class for both BCP and SKB programs. They helped each other, encouraged each other, cared for each other while ill, and were there for each other during difficult times. Their friendship has blossomed as they have achieved academic success and have remained top students in all classes they have attended as well as thrive in their Externships.

Before enrolling at CSI, Apple and Olesya grew up on different continents – Asia and Europe. Apple was from China, majored in literature at college and worked as a journalist and editor-in-chief at a TV station. Olesya was from Russia and had 10 years’ working experience as manager of the foreign economics department, SDT-Impex representation of Martimex a.s. in Moscow.

Despite busy work schedules, they are among the first to come and the last to leave their classrooms, ensuring they will not leave today’s work for tomorrow. They always submit projects ahead of time and always produce quality work with sound perceptions and insightful points, readily applying what they learned to their externships.

While they are from different countries, they share many commonalities and affinities – in their own words: “We have big dreams, the audacity to challenges difficulties, and the determination to give our best for whatever we choose to pursue.” They are grateful that CSI has provided a platform for them to meet, growing together academically and personally, becoming friends and sisters across continents.

Their life in the US is more balanced and enjoyable because they are close friends. While striving to be the best overall students at CSI, they use their leisure time to share experiences and expand on their dreams while they dine in restaurants and sip coffee in coffee shops. CSI makes possible everything from academia to work to life for international students and bridges all three unique dynamics into one exceptional, unique experience.

In the future, the two international sisters may be separated by distance, attend different schools, work on different jobs, or even return to their native countries. Still, when asked how long they will remain friends, they responded that the friendship will last forever because a sister is part of the family.

“We have been friends for years since we joined CSI. The solid relationship at CSI is one of the best things we gained in the United States. We speak different languages and come from different cultures, but we share a lot in terms of family values, life attitudes, and pursuit of excellence, which enable us to understand, connect and communicate well like sisters. We know our friendship will last forever – we just know it.”

Meet Thaimelly Tavares Rigobello

Thaimelly Tavares Rigobello came to Computer Systems Institute’s Charlestown Campus last year and attended the Small Business Administrator program. Since then, she has been dreaming of building her own language school. Thaimelly came to CSI from Brazil, but this is not her first time in the United States. Fifteen years ago when she was still in high school, Thaimelly visited the California as an exchange student. She loved her experience there, meeting new people and learning about new cultures. After returning to Brazil, she continued visiting the United States, traveling as a tourist to different places.
Many things changed in her life during this time including graduating from college and receiving bachelor degrees in both psychology and teaching. She also married and had a daughter.

At the same time, she kept traveling with her family as well as her husband and daughter to different states in the U.S. “I wanted to show them places that I visited as a teenager in California and Florida.” Last year when visiting her friends who live in the Greater Boston area, she learned about CSI. “First my sister found out about your school and told me about it. We started the application process at the same time.”
She became a CSI student in September 2018. Having friends in the Greater Boston area definitely was a factor which influenced Thaimelly’s decision to study here, but the major reason behind that decision was her big dream.

“Teaching languages is my passion. I love teaching! I love working with kids! I love languages (I speak Spanish and French in addition to Portuguese and English). I already have a degree in psychology and teaching. I worked as an English teacher in Brazil, and I have friends who own their own businesses in the education field. I know that if you want to open and run a language school, or even if you want to work for a language school owned by someone else, you need to be somewhat of an administrator; you need to know how a business operates. That is why I chose to study at CSI and enroll in the Small Business Administrator program,” she explains.

She is planning to continue studies and enroll in the Business Career Program to expand her knowledge of business operations. Thaimelly is excited about her classes. During her first quarter, she learned all about managing money in a small business operation. For the next class, she learned about about marketing. Last quarter she learned about bookkeeping and accounting.
“This is something which everybody working for a small business, should know,” she explained.

This quarter, she is taking an Introduction to Small Business Administration class. “All my projects are around opening my own language school — she laughs — this is my dream, and I am learning everything I need to make it reality.” Currently as a part of this course, she is working on the business plan to start her own school, and that requires her to analyze every aspect of it including: which classes to offer, which materials to use, and how to operate a business. She wants to start it really small with two or three additional instructors. “We can start running it as a business from home by teaching languages to small groups of kids and then expand — maybe opening a franchise,” she adds.

Thaimelly looks like she is all about business: “To run a profitable, successful business you need not only to know what you will be selling or serving, but also how to do it, how to maintain daily operations. I already have degree in languages; now I need to learn the business side of it,” she says.

How does she feel about studying at CSI and about living in the Greater Boston area? “I enjoy studying here and I am lucky to have my family and a lot of new friends who are very supportive of my journey. She was worried that her husband would be hesitant to follow her here, but he surprised her by giving her his full support and moving with her to the U.S. so that she could pursue her studies. “He knows how much I am passionate about teaching, and he is there for me,” she says. Living in the United States while she is studying has been a great experience for her daughter too. “She also goes to school here, where she already made friends with kids from different cultures and she loves it,” Thaimelly says.

Shine and let others Shine

Marta Cebula impresses everyone as a young lady full of energy and positivity. Her face glows with a bright smile, may it be a warm, sunny day in May or a snowy, gloomy day in January in Chicago. No matter the weather, she shines.

She walks into the classroom, always wearing a smile. She is not picky about where to sit in the classroom and sits at the first available spot. With complete engagement, she attends every class, always participating, sharing thoughts, asking questions, submitting assignments timely, and getting top grades. Regardless where she sits, she shines.

Marta was a physical education major in her home country of Poland. Despite the fact all her families are in Poland, Marta was delighted to be able to continue her career in the United States. The courses in Customer Service program at CSI opened her up for opportunities to apply her expertise to helping others thorough physical education. She shined with hope.

Opportunity came when Marta became part of Fusion Recplex Burbank Parke District family for her externship. “I discovered that place – thanks to my friend. I always liked to participate in different recreational activities, and I embraced the opportunity dearly and seriously,” Marta shared.

When she first went to Fusion, she was stricken by how helpful and friendly everyone was. That delighted her as a student studying customer service. She took her job seriously, enjoyed her experience at the recreation facility and continued growing professionally, while bringing her enthusiasm and thoughtfulness to both her colleagues and customers.

Not long after Marta started the externship, the facility manager approached and asked her if she was interested in becoming an employee of Fusion Recplex. Marta was thrilled: “That was one of the happiest days in my life!” She shined with joy.

As Marta reflected and shared her stories of helping customers through her passion and expertise, she recalled the time when she signed up for the customer service program at CSI and commented: “I am very grateful for CSI as its course work and externship options provided the valuable tools and prepared me to grow – CSI made my dream come true.”

Her instructor and fellow students enjoy her as an outstanding student, her supervisor appreciates her as an exemplary employee, and her customers love her as a customer service professional with care, love, passion and expertise. She touches everyone with warmth and enthusiasm and her glowing smile.

Marta shines and she lets others shine with her!

Meet Snizhana Kolesnyk

Snizhana Kolesnyk
Please meet Snizhana Kolesnyk from Kyiv, Ukraine. Snizhana lives on beautiful Cape Cod in the town of Yarmouth. She is also a student at Computer Systems Institute (CSI) Allston, MA having started in July, 2018. For those of you who do not know where Cape Cod is in relation to Allston, please take a look at your google maps. You will probably say at least two things: it really looks beautiful there (it is!) and wow, that is a long way from Boston (it is!) It takes a little over six hours a day for the roundtrip to and from Cape Cod and CSI. Snizhana travels by bus and then subway. Snizhana says “but hey, we all invest time and effort in our education. J It is worth it to me to live on Cape Cod by the Atlantic Ocean. It is also worth it to me to travel this far to CSI. After all, I came all the way from Ukraine!” Also note that despite the formidable commute, Snizhana has achieved 100% attendance for several quarters.

She has traveled quite a lot, not only in the USA, having visited Florida, New York (her dream was to first visit Miami and then Manhattan; that’s what initially brought her to the U.S.), California, Nevada and Illinois, but also around the world. She has been to Austria, Poland, Georgia, Montenegro, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Turkey and India.

She says that Boston is one of the best cities from what she’s seen! It has beautiful architecture and a smart composition of buildings and parks that allow you to always find shade in the summer and visit nice places in winter. She always enjoys her time at school, but the bonus part is spending a day in Boston after classes. She’s toured the Museum of Fine Arts already, but the list of must-see places has expanded to include the Museum of Science, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the Harvard Museum of Natural History.

She holds a Master’s degree in Management from Ukraine, and the Business Career Program she is currently enrolled in fits perfectly with her future business plans in Ukraine. She likes to keep her plans simple and attainable, so after graduation she’d like to work and travel in the USA for about a year, and then go back to Europe and open a coffee shop with fresh pastries in downtown Kyiv. She feels her time in the USA and at CSI is laying the groundwork to successfully undertake this venture.

It was during her visit to Boston that she became aware of CSI through mutual friends. She visited the Allston campus and immediately felt that being a student here would be beneficial in helping her achieve her business and career goals. She also liked the community atmosphere at the CSI Allston campus and really loved the Allston neighborhood, which is very diverse, urban and culturally varied.

Her CSI instructors like Mel and Sheryl to name a few make the lessons informative and interesting, so she really enjoys the courses. She states that we have a lot of interactions in class that get students involved and thinking, and they always bring up important, relevant and practical things and make everything easy to understand. She is really enjoying her time at CSI, in Boston, and in the USA.

She further states the courses in the BCP program that are very applicable to her future business plans include Principles of Sales and Marketing, Applied Business Concepts, Customer Service, Financial Services, Computer Applications 1 and 2, Intro to Small Business Management. She says she would not come all the way from Cape Cod if there was little to nothing to gain from the courses. On the contrary, she looks forward to coming to CSI, because she sees the value in the courses mentioned above related to opening and operating a small business. A big value-added benefit of CSI’s BCP program is the opportunity for an OPT. She fully intends to do this to apply the skills she is learning, and to get a better idea of how businesses run in the USA. She feels this will be invaluable in getting her business in Kyiv up and running. Snizhana is thrilled to continue her education and gain invaluable experience at CSI as she looks forward to her future.

A Dominican in Chicago

Working on one’s resume can be a difficult task, especially for those with a foreign background. Biencar Luciano, from the Dominican Republic, is not the exception. “Whenever somebody looks at my resume, they ask me how I can have such a wide background in two different fields: finance and teaching. Education is a foundation that can be applied in any domain of expertise. The success of a good financial professional depends on their ability to communicate their analysis and ensure the departments they are supporting have understood the complex financial information they have worked on. This requires comprehending how people absorb information, retain it, and what drives them to act on it”.

It all started when she was 11 years old and joined a financial cooperative in her “barrio,” a humble neighborhood in the second city of the country, Santiago. Early on she saw in the people around her the will to strive, to hold onto the smallest opportunity they could find. The cooperative members would meet once a week and discuss topics, such as: money management, self-esteem, leadership, and so on.   A few years later, she became the president of the division for kids and teenagers for two consecutive terms. She helped to establish similar groups in other barrios.

“The people in these barrios inspired me. They all had something in common: they believed. They believed that they could have a better future, even if they had to fight twice as hard”.

Biencar’s parents always advised her and her siblings to be mindful of how lucky they were to have food on the table. Words that she did not really understand until the crisis of 2004 hit her family and her mother went bankrupt with her jewelry business.
“Those things that we took for granted before were not there anymore. Every penny counted to make ends meet. We never complained but embraced the change”.
Once in college, Biencar joined Un Techo – RD, a nonprofit thanks to which she would discover the reality of some Dominicans who were living in extreme poverty conditions. Hundreds of young volunteers would go to some of the most undeveloped towns in the Dominican Republic and spend days building and painting the houses of these families. They would eat together, sleep on the floor of some community centers, bathe wherever they could find some water and open the eyes to a truth that is not shared on social media.
“I am very grateful of the families that opened up their homes and hearts to us. They were so kind, joyful, generous, and thankful in such harsh conditions. It was just beautiful”.

While going to college for her finance degree, she got a job as an English and Computer teacher. She graduated Summa Cum Laude and decided to work full time in the area that she always knew was her passion. After working in an accounting advisory capacity for several industries, she was hired to run the finance department of a small international export company (400 employees).

However, her journey as a teacher was not over yet. Some years later, eager to go abroad and discover new opportunities, Biencar contacted over 14 American universities, applied to five different scholarships, and spent all her savings in tests and fees. She finally got a scholarship to complete a master’s in Education in the United States. Within a few weeks she had to pack her belongings, hop on a plane for the first time, and arrive right before New Year’s Eve to discover subzero weather. “I came in winter time and that is all I brought to the U.S.: one suitcase of summer clothes and $700. I left behind my family, friends, career, a business and a nonprofit that I had co-founded, and my comfort zone. I was not afraid — out of ignorance rather than courage. I had no idea of the challenge waiting ahead of me”.

Dominican in Chicago Eventually, she graduated with a GPA of 4.0 and got a job in Chicago Public Schools, working mostly with immigrant kids. Biencar successfully passed the CPA exams while completing the Business Career Program in Computer Systems Institute. CSI gave her the opportunity to understand all those terms that she had learned before, now in an American setting. When asked about what she plans to do in the future, she replies: “I really miss finance and I am looking forward to going back to my field. I would love to mentor other Dominicans, as well. Whatever I do, I will always be inspired by the image that many Dominican women have projected throughout the history. And I hope that I can always represent our ethics and core values”.

Meet Nirmal Arcot

Nearly 30 million households tuned in to watch this year’s Oscar Awards Ceremony, solidifying it as the most watched non-sporting event in the country.

One person who watched with keen interest is CSI student Nirmal Arcot, who prior to Oscar Night, spent an entire day watching all of the nominees for Best Picture. Who, you may ask, could watch 6 movies in one day? Well, if you have a profound love of movies and are an aspiring filmmaker yourself, 6 movies does not seem like a lot. So, where did Nirmal’s love of film come from?

“When I was in the 5th grade, I used to go to the theater with my Dad to see regional Indian movies. Those were fun to watch. They have comedy, action, everything. So, there is my favorite hero, and my Dad said we were there to see his latest movie. When we arrived, the posters were different, so I asked if this was his movie. When the movie began, I saw it was different. It was an American movie. So during the interval, I was crying because I didn’t want to see that movie. But eventually, the more I watched it, the more I liked it.”

Once exposed to this new style of movies, Nirmal dove into them with a passion. And, given his inquisitive nature, he needed to know the secret to creating such magic. He now watches so many movies, mainly for the purpose of studying them.

“I go to the movie theater every 3 days and on the other days, I watch two or three movies from all countries: Chinese for action, Japanese for anime, European for art. I study the style. I study the acting….these are my teachers.”

Normal arrived in Chicago in 2017, but his coming to this country was not by chance; this was the plan all along.

“To make it in film, you have to make it here in the United States. But school was expensive, so I got a Bachelor’s in Photography and I hope to make it into a Master’s program in Filmmaking.”

How has his experience at CSI helped him fuel his passion?

“All the instructors are very friendly and very supportive of my passion and I have collaborated with them on my short film (Adjunct Instructor, Aghavni Hovakimyan provided the music for one of his films). I am very thankful for them projecting (promoting) what I do.”

What does the future hold for Nirmal?

Who knows, we may one day wait with anticipation to hear these words: “And the Oscar for Best Director goes to…Nirmal Arcot!”

Looking to the Future

Boston, a world-renowned destination, welcomes many students who dream of studying in the U.S. Within a mile radius of the Back Bay section of Boston, there are about 250,000 college students studying and working toward making their dream a reality.

In addition to being known for its colleges and universities, Boston is also famous for its top research hospitals, ranked among the best in the United States.

For Honduran sisters Besy and Silvia Sanabria, settling down in Central Massachusetts provided them access to excellent medical care as well as the wonderful opportunity to study at Computer Systems Institute, Worcester Campus. Worcester is a short commute just west of Boston, easily travelled on the Mass Pike.

Silvia and Besy grew up in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, a factory city in Central America known for producing clothing and automobiles. When Silvia was one year old, the family experienced a tragedy when their home burned to the ground. Silvia was severely burned and required ongoing medical attention. Her treatments continued over the next 21 years. A group of doctors and nurses from Honduras who had been treating Silvia recommended she come to Massachusetts. They believed she would benefit greatly from the care offered at the Children’s Hospital in Boston.

Silvia applied for a humanitarian visa and was granted entrance to the United States. She was able to bring someone to help her on her journey and that someone was her sister, Besy. Today, we are happy to report that Silvia’s healing process has been significant and she is enjoying her life with her husband and a four-month old son, Ian.

Silvia’s need for medical treatments brought her to the U.S. and opened a new opportunity for her, to advance her education. Besy and Silvia are both enrolled in the Business Career Program at CSI and both have embraced the opportunity to learn about business. Their long term goal is to become business owners. Both of them arrive on campus with an attitude aimed at success and a passion for the day’s lessons.

The sisters’ strong work ethic was instilled by their parents. Store owners back in Honduras, their parents, married for 45 years, have supported their daughters and continue to speak daily by phone. I sat down with the sisters on a recent winter afternoon and we talked about living in New England. I asked them what took the most getting used to about living here. They agree that learning the subway system, the language, and the weather have all been a bit challenging.

I asked Silvia and Besy what they like to do when they were not in school or studying. They both said they love to travel. They have visited New Jersey and New York City. They enjoyed seeing the tall buildings and the shops as well as the vast array of ethnically diverse foods. I concluded our talk with one last question: “Where in the U.S. would you like to visit that you have not been?” Both responded “Disney World, Florida.” How appropriate that the travel destination for two young women whose dreams are being realized would be the magical land of dreams come true.

Meet Nataliia Shevchuk

Many of us at CSI, whether students, faculty or staff, came to this country to follow a dream. Some of us are chasing it intently, some of us had to readjust to meet the new reality, while some are determined to continue pursuing our dreams and not give up!

One of CSI’s students did just that! Nataliia left Ukraine for the United States with the intent of becoming a makeup artist and, despite a few roadblocks, she’s on track to make that dream a reality. Nataliia is passionate about her goals. She is enrolled and attending CSI full time. That alone requires a significant amount of time and attention, however to improve her Skills, Nataliia enrolled and is attending concurrently another institution to pursue her vision.

According to Nataliia, strict upbringing by her mother–who was a teacher–molded her into the ambitious artist and aspiring business woman she is today.

“[My mom] demanded a lot from me,” Nataliia said, “Always telling me that if “I’m doing something I have to be the best at it. If I’m not the best, then what’s the point of doing it?”

Last year, Nataliia attended both Computer Systems Institute, Skokie and Makeup First Academy, an excellent school for learning this craft. After returning late at night, she would spend several more hours practicing her makeup skills on a face chart or her husband, who fully supports her dream. But early on, she wasn’t always putting in the time necessary to achieve her lofty goals. She recalls telling a classmate of her dream to specialize in make-up design. She was shocked at her classmate’s response: She told Nataliia to be more realistic about future career choices and that she should do something practical, more like serving or bartending.

“I’ll probably never forget that comment,” Nataliia said.

However, most of her classmates–especially when she switched schools and started attending CSI–encouraged her to continue striving for her dream. She is now focused on applying business acumen from what she has been learning at CSI into her dream of becoming a makeup artist. Eventually, she wants to open a Make-Up school so she can pass her knowledge and techniques of the craft onto others.

As Nataliia continues to grow as an artist, she is already thinking of expanding her skill set by learning photography so she could “share her art through her own eyes.”

When asked if her Mother approves of the path she is on, Nataliia smiles and says: “I showed her all that I am learning and she told me she is very proud of me.”