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Carmen Navarro

Description: Introduction music with the blue OTAN logo appearing on a black screen. The music continues as Karen Barroso starts her interview. Kay has short, light brown hair and dark eyes. She is wearing a sleeveless multi-colored summer dress and eyeglasses. She is sitting in the office in front of the bulletin board and a computer monitor.

Karen Barroso, Professional Learning Communities Program Manager, New Haven Adult School: I've known Carmen for about 12 years and I first met her working here at the school as, she worked as kind of like a secretary, as a resource person for our ESL department.

Description: Carmen is walking up the sidewalk in front of the school with Karen. The stone sign reads: Decoto School, Home of New Haven Adult School, New Haven Unified School District. Carmen is a Hispanic woman with long dark hair. She is wearing a black suit with a red, white and black print top. Karen is wearing sleeveless, floral, v-neck top and black slacks.  Karen's interview continues.

Karen: She started GED and ESL in adult school. What a great person. Could I not, I had to nominate someone like that. Since I had known her for a long time, saw her persistence and how education was so important to her; that I thought she was a perfect fit for adult student success.

Description: Video of their conversation outside the school continues. Then Carmen's interview begins.

Carmen: When I came here I was 20 years old and I was a widow at the time. So to be in Mexico, to be a widow with a son is not a good thing. I had to go, so I left.

Description: A photo of a young Carmen with her family is shown. She is standing with her son and is wearing a blue dress.

Carmen: And when you get here, you are not the same person any more.  I mean, I used to cry and cry because I just felt like this is not home. I need to go back.

Description: There is a sepia-tone photo of her hometown in Mexico shown. There are many adobe buildings surrounding a large church. There are green foothills in the background.

Carmen: No, I was proud and my pride was stronger maybe. And I said, "No, I'm not going back".

Karen: That whole process of rearing children, helping a husband with his own business, and then deciding to go to school and reach her goal of getting a BA and then going for a teaching certificate; I think she overcame all of those.

Description: Carmen is sitting at her cluttered desk sorting through papers.

Karen: I don't think anyone has an excuse and says, "Oh, I don't have enough money; I'm busy with my family; my husband owns his own business". None of those were excuses for her.

Description: Carmen is looking through some files in the office.

Karen: She continued with her education because that was primary. I wouldn't be surprised to see her as Dr. Carmen Navarro someday.

Carmen: Sometimes when I was doing my homework and I was having a hard time, I was just like, that's it. I don't want to do it anymore. I'm just going to stop. Then I thought, how am I going to tell my sons that now I'm going to give up? I'm not going to do it anymore.

Description: There is a photo shown of a younger Carmen standing on a dirt road with her two young sons.  Carmen had her hair pulled back in a ponytail and is wearing brown slacks and a black blouse. The older boy has short, curly, dark hair and is wearing a plaid shirt and brown corduroy pants. The younger boy is wearing blue jeans and a blue sweatshirt.

Carmen: No, no, no, no.  Then I just push myself right.

Description: Cristobal Navarro is interviewed at the school. He has dark hair and eyes. He is wearing a striped shirt.

Cristobal: I'm proud of her and I know her hard work is paying off. And now she showed me that no matter how far you want to go, you don't have to stop. Nothing can stop you. And I'm trying to convince her now that, don't feel like because you got to the point where you're at now, that's not as far as you can go. You need to look ahead and if you need to change careers, go forward with it, but don't stop.

Description: Carmen and Cristobal are sitting at a table discussing some paperwork. They are going through some files together. 

Marisol Benard's interview begins. She is a young woman with long dark hair and dark eyes. She is wearing a white blouse and large silver earrings. She is sitting in her classroom in front of the bulletin board.

Marisol Benard, Even Start Program Manger, New Haven Adult School: Her self esteem, you know, has risen so much (she raises her hand in the air) from when I met her nine years ago until now – the woman just impresses me every day. The things that she's learned – she's a learner. She's going to be a learner for the rest of her life.

Description: Carmen is in her office working at the computer.

Marisol:  And you see that – and you know that about her and it just makes you feel good that this person, that there's people out there like that, that are going to continue learning for the rest of their life.

Karen: Because of her persistence and her flexibility she was able to be a role model for many of the women that she works with and the children she works with. This is a community highly populated by Hispanic women and she works for the Even Start program right now.

Description: Carmen is in a classroom surrounded by young girls. Then they are out in the parking lot and Carmen is taking pictures with her camera.

Karen: She's a model for them. They can actually see – this is a woman that fulfilled her dreams, fulfilled her goals, and now has come back and is working as a teacher here at our school.

Description: There is a photo of Carmen' graduation shown. She is surrounded by a group of fellow graduates. They are all wearing black caps and gowns with red stoles.

Carmen is working in the classroom with her students.

Karen: What better place to see a role model is to be working with those people.

Carmen: For me is to be with the adults. I feel like they're here because they want to be here.  And everybody has a story to share. And I love to share stories and I love to hear their lives. So I can tell them don't worry. You can do this, you can go in there. So for me to be here is, I feel like I'm somebody. I can be somebody and I can help somebody.

Description: Kathy Asterlind has short brown hair and is wearing a navy blue and white Hawaiian print shirt and silver earrings. Her interview takes place in her classroom.

Kathy Asterlind, Student Advisor Program Manager, New Haven Adult School: It took her years and years and years to get all of that education under her belt. But she did it slowly, methodically, patiently, and I would say because she was an adult, she appreciated what she was going though.

Description: Carman and Cristobal are again sitting at a table together going through a file folder of certificates.

Kathy: I know she's thinking about many other opportunities in education. I well up when I think of her. She really has beat a lot of odds in achieving her goals and moving forward. And I'm proud of her.

Carmen: You really have to believe about your dream and keep trying. Sometimes you feel like you're going to give up but like my Dad used to say, "If it doesn't work, just stand up and keep going".

Description: There is an old photo of Carmen and her Dad shown. They are standing together in the living room with the rest of the family. There are many family photos on the wall in the background. He is wearing khaki slacks, white shirt, and a black pullover sweater. She is wearing a black dress. There are young children sitting in the foreground.

Carmen and Cristobal are shown walking down the hallway of the adult school. Carmen is smiling and waves to the camera.

Carmen: If it doesn't work the first time, try the second time. If it doesn't work the second time, maybe the next time you're going to make it. And he always said that women have to be strong. They have to be prepared. They have to learn. He said education is going to be your key.  I mean, if you are educated you can do everything.

Description: A beautiful graduation portrait of Carmen is shown. She is wearing and black cap and gown with a red stole. The screen fades to black and the credits read produced by OTAN, September 2008; producer, Penny Pearson, director, Douglas Rennie.