Urban College helps English Language Learners to earn a college degree

Over time, the Urban College of Boston (UCB) filled a special niche in the higher education community through its success in providing non-traditional students from Boston’s neighborhoods with affordable education and skills-training to improve their lives.

UCB is providing English Language Learners (ELLs) with an even more special student support, through its new Tapping Academic Potential (TAP) Program. In 2009, the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE) funded TAP, a multi-year commitment to support ELLs in the College’s Early Childhood Education program. TAP students are provided with comprehensive and one-to-one academic and literacy support to help them transition smoothly into English classes. Students in the program take two courses every semester to build on their English Language skills as they prepare to complete their Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education.

Olga Gudiel, 28, who did not speak one word in English after migrating to Boston from Honduras three years ago, attributes her success in learning English to the support from her advisors, teachers and staff. Like her fellow TAP students, Olga receives several hours per week of individual English Language tutoring, as well as mentoring by TAP staff. She remarked that the added support such as phone calls or simply by being told “you can do it,” goes a long way particularly when one is working full-time, earning a degree and learning a new language at the same time.

Olga began to take courses in English at the basic level; and is now taking college-level writing courses to finish her degree. As part of her school activities, Olga participates in trainings, events and career-advising activities with the TAP program and other college events. She is currently the student representative on the UCB Board of Trustees. “Three years ago, I could not even speak English and now I am able to participate with confidence in the Board meetings,” said Olga.

“Olga is a shining example of the accomplishments of UCB English Language Learners and we are proud to have her represent the College’s student body on our Board,” remarked UCB President Dr. Linda Edmonds Turner.

Not only is Olga demonstrating her new English Language skills, she also serves as a role model to her family and friends who are proud of her plan to pursue her bachelor’s degree upon graduation at the UCB June 2011 Commencement. Her goal is to teach Math to high school students when she receives her bachelor’s degree. She also plans to earn a Master’s degree in Education during the evening while teaching in high school.

The Urban College of Boston is located in downtown Boston on Tremont Street near the Boylston Green Line T stop. Currently, the College serves 1,200 students annually in the associate degree and certificate programs. For more information, visit the College’s website at urbancollege.edu.