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“I know there are many people – immigrants especially – who don’t believe in community colleges. They can’t afford a four-year institution, but they don’t think going to a community college can help them and that it would be a waste of time and money. It is not true at all. A community college is a great place that opens up the door to a whole new world that awaits you. You just have to seek out the information and help you need to get in.”
Hometown: Framingham by way of Brazil
Interest: Associate Degree in Liberal Arts: Elementary Education
Cinthya Monteiro always intended to go back to school after graduating from Keefe Tech High School in Framingham in 2005, but between working and family responsibilities “I never had the time or money,” she says. That all changed in the spring of 2013 when her husband asked her, “Are you serious about going back to school?” And Cinthya said yes.
Cinthya was born in Anapolis, GO in central Brazil, coming to America at the age of 13 to get her education and move closer to her sister. She lived with her cousin, who took her in as part of her family. Because Cinthya had good grades in Brazil, she was elevated to the 8th grade. But she spoke no English, only Portuguese.
“Within three months of being in school, I was fluent in English,” she says. “I took all my classes in English and attended separate ESL classes through the school system.”
Her sister had moved to America to work in the hope of moving back to Brazil and having a better life. Cinthya had moved to America to go to school in the hope of having her parents move here too. Neither scenario happened as planned.
After 8th grade, her parents were unable to get a visa so Cinthya moved back to Brazil for a year. She returned to America the summer before her junior year, living in Framingham and preparing to attend Keefe Tech High School. And then her life took another dramatic turn. She met Elias.
Elias moved to America from southern Brazil at the age of six, earning an Associate Degree from MassBay. The couple was married in May 2005. Cinthya was 18 and graduated Keefe Tech a few weeks after the wedding.
Now with a green card, and certified in business technology from Keefe Tech, Cinthya says she “went to work.” She held down three positions: secretary of their church, babysitting, and as a pharmacy technician at a local company. Elias was a realtor and the treasurer at the church.
In 2007, they had their first child, a son. Cinthya continued to work, moving up four levels in the company (“second level from the top,” she says with pride.), while still babysitting and working as an administrator at the church. Their daughter was born in 2008, and their second son was born in October 2010. She had to leave the company and earned money as a babysitter and through the church. She had also obtained a realtor’s license at this time.
But after a while, and after deciding they wouldn’t have any more kids, “My husband and mother-in-law were on my case about going back to school. I had talked about going to school, and the kids were in school and daycare.”
In April 2013, Elias asked Cinthya if she was serious about going back to school. She said yes, so he “took me right then for a ride to Framingham State and then to MassBay. When I got to MassBay, I applied on the spot.”
Cinthya is now in her first semester, taking five classes, still babysitting and working at the church, while also raising three children under the age of seven.
“It’s been great. I love it,” she says. “I’m not going to lie – sometimes it is overwhelming and hard to keep up with everything, but it’s amazing.”
“I’m used to tough things,” she continues. “I have always succeeded in school. There are weeks when I want to rip my hair out, but I’ve been successful so far. I also know I couldn’t be doing this if it weren’t for the support of my family – especially my husband.”
Cinthya is enrolled in MassBay’s Associate Degree in Liberal Arts: Elementary Education, and she hopes to transfer to a four-year institution and ultimately her Master’s Degree. She wants to teach (“I love children,” she says.).
She says she chose MassBay primarily because of the price. “It’s more affordable than four-year schools, and it offers the same education, same great teachers for a better price. If I decide to transfer to a state university I can take advantage of the MassTransfer program and because of my grades I might get a scholarship. It’s a great place to start!”
She has also been impressed by the professors at MassBay. “They are very supportive. Even in the class I thought was going to be the hardest, honors English, Professor Jeanie Tietjen makes it fun. She is energetic, and she makes things easy to understand. It’s difficult to write and read well, but these are the skills you need in any profession you choose.”
Cinthya realizes there are many people out there just like her, and she offers this advice:“First and foremost, don’t give up. You have to help yourself though. The admissions office isn’t going to knock on your door. You have to get up and do something about it. If I didn’t decide to go look at schools that day I wouldn’t be here today.”
“I know there are many people – immigrants especially – who don’t believe in community colleges,” she continues, “They can’t afford a four-year institution, but they don’t think going to a community college can help them and that it would be a waste of time and money. It is not true at all. A community college is a great place that opens up the door to a whole new world that awaits you. You just have to seek out the information and help you need to get in.”
Cinthya Monteiro emigrated from Brazil at the age of 13. She is a mother of three, holds two jobs, and takes a full course load. She is pursuing her Associate Degree in Liberal Arts: Elementary Education and intends to transfer her MassBay credits to a four-year school. She aspires to earn her Master’s Degree and become a teacher.