Student Snapshot: Belita Ribeiro
Her Passion. Her Experience.
Belita Ribeiro felt stuck a few years ago: “I felt like I had no hope and things weren’t working out.” After reading a newspaper article about the opening of College Unbound, she saw a way forward. “I just knew it was designed for people like me.” Two years later, she sees opportunity and thinks differently. “Everything changed when I came to College Unbound,” she adds. “It keeps me busy and gives me hope and strength.”
Belita’s passion is helping Cape Verdeans make their way, as she did after coming to the U.S. in 2004. “I didn’t know what to do or where to go,” she says. She had wanted to study here, and over time she applied for a green card and in 2012 she became a U.S. citizen.
Her College Unbound project is to help community members with their immigration issues. Referrals make her phone ring, and Belita helps Cape Verdeans with their paperwork for green cards, work authorization, and citizenship and refers them to a lawyer and to nonprofits for other issues. She has learned the details of this work from a Cape Verdean in the Boston area who is nearing retirement. Belita intends to one day open her own business for immigration services.
She transferred credits to College Unbound from the Community College of Rhode Island, where she had tried two programs. She had just one prerequisite left to take before entering the CCRI nursing program, but as a single parent of two she didn’t have enough homework time. Later, she tried the accounting program. “There was no cohort, no support,” she says.
While enrolled at College Unbound, Belita came to a near-quitting point and called the provost. In a meeting with him, a board member, and the college’s president, she learned that everything she does for her community counted as homework and she could alter her schedule. “What I do for my community counts: That made the difference.
“Life doesn’t change, but I’ll have a degree.”