(PHOENIX, AZ) - Before Monique Kimbuende moved from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to the United States in 1987, she was well aware of the importance of an education and the many opportunities it could provide. She not only secured an associate degree in fashion design, but she also taught high school and served as a principal while living in the DRC.
However, with only five years of basic English, Kimbuende knew she needed to advance her English skills after arriving in the United States, so she decided to take advantage of the continuing education classes for adult learners.
“Coming from a developing country, I was quite surprised by the opportunities for continuing education in the country,” she said. “Back home, education was mainly for young people, and institutions for adult-based education were very few.”
However, going back to school was certainly not an easy task. One of the most challenging situations for Kimbuende was returning to school and learning English because she was also raising four children at the time. However, this dedicated mother and student did not give up; she persevered. She stayed the course and got her inspiration from others who had already gone through similar challenges. In fact, she encourages other language learners to do the same.
“When I first enrolled at PC, my level of English was very limited, she said. “By the time I completed the program, my communication skills had significantly improved, and I owe this success to the support and dedication of my ESL instructors. My advice to other ESL students is that language learning has no age limit. The key strategy is to develop time management skills.”
Completing the ESL Program at Phoenix College was just the beginning for Kimbuende. In 2002, she graduated from PC with an associate degree in nursing, and pursued a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Grand Canyon University. Her education once again paid off. For 19 years she has been working at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center where she provides direct patient care to orthopedic, stable trauma, and surgical patients.
“Phoenix College provided me with a very positive learning environment that made it easy for me to succeed,” she added. “I am grateful to Phoenix College, its faculty, and staff for providing me with the education I needed to be successful in this society.”
Kimbuende’s gratitude toward Phoenix College is ever present in her ongoing commitment to the college and its refugee community.
“As you know Arizona has been a major refugee resettlement location due to the abundance of employment opportunities and low cost living,” Kimbuende added. “For many years, my family has been involved in providing support to refugees from all over the world, and our ability to speak many African languages made it easy to focus more on refugees from Africa. Being immigrants ourselves, we understand the challenges of starting a new life in a new country.”
For more than 20 years, Kimbuende has participated in the Phoenix College Adopt-a-Family program. This program has supported many refugees over the years.
She adds, “I have been and will continue to be an ambassador of the college in the community, especially among immigrants by encouraging them to enroll for classes at Phoenix College.”
The ESL program at Phoenix College offers students one of the most diverse language learning programs in Arizona. Our ESL students come from more than 100 different countries, speaking 50 different languages. Additionally, the ESL Program at Phoenix College offers the most variety of classes of any of the 10 colleges in the Maricopa County Community College District from Basic English to Freshman Composition and Research. Students may enroll in ESL classes now by going to www.phoenixcollege.edu/esl or calling (602) 285-7375. Also, visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PhoenixCollegeESL .