vilma granadosAs a teenager the education of Salvadoran native Vilma Granados was disrupted by the brutal civil war raging in her country in the 1980s. After warring factions shut down the school in her town, Vilma came to the U.S. to study and to work. When she first arrived in 1984, she spoke no English.

That same year Vilma enrolled in English classes at the Carlos Rosario School, then known as Gordon Center. After taking a few basic English classes, her family pushed her to give up her studies and get a job.

Vilma’s educational dreams became more of a distant memory when she turned her focus on starting a family in the early 1990s. And when she and her husband separated in the mid-1990s, Vilma was working two or three jobs to ensure her son would be afforded better opportunities.

Hoping to complete her GED, Vilma returned to the Carlos Rosario School in early 2000. She struggled with the material and with her own self esteem. She said, “It’s hard when you want to do something but you think you can’t.” At the school, teachers and classmates were rooting for Vilma, and she began to question why she didn’t believe in herself when so many other people did.

In 2011 Vilma was chosen as one of two Carlos Rosario School students to represent the school at a global education conference. This event further cemented her determination to achieve her goals. She came back a changed person, ready to tackle the obstacles standing in the way of her education. In 2012 Vilma proudly walked across the stage to accept her GED diploma.

Now Vilma is in her first year at Montgomery College where she hopes to study social sciences. She wants to inspire others with her story. Vilma said, “That’s what I want now, to be able to encourage other students like me to come back to school.”