(Editor’s note: This is the text of the speech STCC student Sarai Andrades gave at Greenfield Community College, where the MassReconnect program was celebrated).

Good afternoon. My name is Sarai Andrades. I am enrolled in the Health Science program at Springfield Technical Community College. I am the first person in my family to go to college. My goal is to pursue a career in the medical field as a nurse and be able to provide health care to the Springfield community and surrounding cities. (Use this link to watch Sarai’s speech).

As a low-income Latin woman with only one income in the household and other bills to pay, I’m thrilled to qualify for the MassReconnect program. MassReconnect opens up the door for me to pursue a career in the nursing field without worrying about the costs of tuition and other educational expenses. The program significantly reduces the financial burden of pursuing higher education.

MassReconnect is going to help me achieve my career goal and provide a better future for myself and my family.

In addition to the financial benefits, pursuing a degree at STCC has offered me personal and professional growth opportunities. STCC has helped me develop new skills, expand my knowledge, and increase my potential. I am thankful for the support I have received at STCC. TRIO Student Support Services has helped me and many other students adjust to the college environment.  I’m grateful for the LEAD Female Leadership and Mentoring Program.

With MassReconnect, I have a life-changing opportunity. It provides the means to achieve my career goals and improve my financial situation, without getting in debt. I am certain that without MassReconnect, I might have to struggle financially. I might have been another dropout statistic, not because I couldn’t complete the work as a college student, but because I could not afford it. This is a fantastic opportunity for me – at the age of 49 – to achieve my career goals. 

Ever since I was young, I wanted to become a nurse, but I became a single mother of three children and so my focus had to change. I knew I had to provide for them, so I had to put my education and career goals on hold. Instead of enrolling in college, I got my GED, and started working at a community health center, holding various positions starting with managed care enrollment, and moving up to become a case manager. I served as an advocate on behalf of the Latino community.

All my experiences have been fulfilling. My children have all grown up and now it is time, and I am ready to pursue my goals to become a nurse.

My passion has always been assisting others and trying to improve their quality of life. Pursuing a career in nursing will allow me to become involved in providing the citizens of our community with quality health care. Further, I hope to contribute to underserved populations in my community, to help those – like myself – who struggle daily to sustain a family. So thank you to our Governor, our legislators, and all of our community college leaders for making this dream a reality.

To find out more about MassReconnect, visit stcc.edu/pay-for-college/massreconnect/.