Berenice Torres is living proof that even when it seems like all hope is lost, there is always someone there to help.
The Melrose Park native struggled as a high school student, dropping out after her junior year.
“I was constantly bullied to a point where I was contemplating hurting myself,” she said. “It wasn’t a safe environment for me to be in.”
After dropping out, Berenice moved away from home, and worked 60 hours per week at a minimum wage job just to make ends meet. She knew it wasn’t sustainable, but was unsure how to get her life back on track.
“It was horrible, I hated it,” she recalled.
A few months later, Berenice’s mother encouraged her to move back home and enroll in Triton College’s High School Equivalency Program, formerly known as GED. Berenice flourished under the guidance of the staff and instructors of Triton’s School of Adult Education, earning her high school equivalency certificate in spring 2017.
“I loved all the classes I took at Triton,” she said. “The teachers are really supportive, and there’s a smaller teacher to student ratio compared to other colleges so you’re able to talk to your professors more easily and ask more questions.”
Now, Berenice is continuing her education as a student in Triton’s Nursing Program. She is a recipient of both the Board of Trustees and Westlake Scholarships, which are available to students who successfully earn their high school equivalency completion certificate or complete level five of the English as a Second Language Program.
“The scholarships are really helpful,” she says. “My parents don’t have a lot of money for me to go to school so without the scholarships I would have to work and study at the same time. I don’t think I would be able to work a full-time job and be a full-time student at the same time.”
After Triton, Berenice plans to transfer to nearby Benedictine University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Triton Adult Education Program helps hundreds of students like Berenice every semester.
The High School Equivalency Program offers various levels of language arts and math courses designed to help students gain the knowledge and skills needed to prepare for their high school equivalency exam. Classes are offered throughout the year and are taught in both English and Spanish.
Additionally, the Adult Education Program offers six levels of free English as a Second Language (ESL) courses designed to help non-native English speakers develop reading, writing, listening and speaking skills.
Triton also offers free classes to help members of our communities become American citizens by preparing them for the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) test.
Triton’s Completion and Transition Specialists are ready to assist students as they navigate their road to educational and professional success by helping them lay out their academic and career goals, and craft a plan to help them achieve those goals. Additionally, adult education students can take advantage of Triton’s Bridge Program which helps them succeed in postsecondary education or transition into a career.
For more information or to enroll in one of Triton’s adult education programs, please call (708) 456-0300, Ext. 3259 or 3513.
Photo: Berenice Torres of Melrose Park completed Triton College’s High School Equivalency Program in spring 2017. She is now enrolled in Triton’s Nursing Program.