Briya CDA Student Stories

Hanh Nguyen

Hanh Nguyen is from Vietnam and has two children, aged 8 and 11. She started taking English classes at Briya in 2018, after her friend told her about the school.  Briya’s social services helped her get insurance and in class, she learned how to support her children in school. Studying at Briya is an opportunity to be a good mom and a good teacher. Now, any time she has any doubts, not only in her studies but also for any personal issues, she knows that she can count on BriyaBriya is like a second family where students can share and receive support.  

While studying in the Advanced 2 English class, she learned about the CDA Program and enrolled. She loves children and learns a lot from them, like how to be creative. She listens to them and tries to put herself in their position. The CDA Program has a strong curriculum. After being in the program, students become a different person.  They learn child development, how to be a professional, the importance of ethnicity, and how to understand, support and raise children. It’s important to learn and practice. They don’t learn just from a book but in the real life. 

The program is free and has very professional teachers. Hanh appreciates her teacher, Mau.  Mau is amazing and is always available to answer any questions and support students, especially during COVID 19. COVID was a big challenge for students, being mothers and studying at the same time. During COVID, students did virtual classes. The schedule was flexible and students studied whenever they were available. They had to balance their lives and be independent and responsible. Students have to set up a timetable for their own studying, and they can’t do it alone. Students need to ask for help from their families and even from their kids. With the support of teachers and Briya, students overcame the challenge more easily. Students passed the CDA test and completed their portfolios. 

In Hanh’s opinion Briya is amazing. It is not only a school, it is a home first, where you can find love and support and understanding.  Briya provides coaching, modelling, and support to all the students. They don’t only learn knowledge, Briya also supports life, mental health, housing, insurance, and parenting. It’s a long-term plan.  Even when students finish learning they can always come back and get more help.  And after the CDA Program, graduates can do the Early Childhood Associate Degree Program to become a lead teacher. Briya has helped Hanh feel confident and well prepared for a career. 

Marie Beal

Marie Beal was a student in Briya‘s CDA program in the 2019-2020 school year. She first became interested in Briya’s program because she has always been the go-to person in her family for babysitting. She was at a family event last summer when two of her nieces told her, “Auntie Marie, you should enroll in Briya’s CDA program, you’re so good with kids!” Both of her nieces were enrolled to start that fall, so she took their advice and registered to start the program with them.  

Being a full-time student and juggling all of her other responsibilities was not always easy. She was responsible for picking up her kids from school across town every day and making it to class on time on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. She was also working an unpaid internship at a daycare. Despite all of the challenges, and with support from Briya she made it work. She joined the student council and developed close relationships with her teachers and other staff, especially Shauna a CDA instructor and her math teacher, Emily.  Marie tells staff that she’s happy that they see her as an individual, not just a student, and really care about her well-being. 

Marie accepted a substitute teacher position while studying in the CDA program and is happy Briya made that possible. Since finishing the program, one of her nieces (and fellow classmate) is working in a daycare, the other niece is finishing her practicum hours, and she is now an assistant teacher at the daycare she started with. Marie plans to start my associate’s degree at Catholic University in this fallWhen asked about her experience studying at Briya affected her goals she said, “I never thought something like this was possible, but my mind is open, the possibilities are open, and I’m more focused than ever.   

Although this pandemic has been tough, Marie is happy that she’s finally feeling like a real teacher. I feel like I’m really coming into myself now. Any time I’ve been in need of anything Briya has been there for me. Whether It’s extra support or just someone to talk to. I am a whole different person now and I owe it all to Briya,” she says. 

Kenia and her young daughter smiling

Kenia Velasquez

Kenia Velasquez first started attending Briya English classes in 201with her daughter Emma, who is now 5 years old. In 2019, she enrolled in the Child Development Associate Program. COVID was challenging because her daughter was used to her routine of going to school and she didn’t understand why we had to stay inside.  She loved the early childhood classes and was very bored at home where she struggled to concentrate on her schoolwork.

The time spent in her class over zoom was short to ask all my questions, so she sent teachers text messages Kenia is so grateful for all the ways in which Briya has helped her family.  She received a debit card and reimbursement for the class materials.  She used the money to buy much needed food since she was no longer working.

Now, she hopes to get a job at nightso she doesn’t have to pay for childcare.  Briya also showed her how to enroll Emma in school.  She was also able to help her sister after attending Briya’s workshops on immigration Kenia noted that during COVID, “All the calls and assistance from Briya staff helped me not to feel all alone.  Without Briya, I would have never learned English. Now, I’m not afraid to go places where only English is spoken. It has changed my life, and I feel safer and more confident.  


Rosa Martinez

Rosa Martinez has been attending Briya classes with her children Miguel and Rosemary since 2017.  First, she enrolled in the English classes, and last school year she participated in the Child Development Associate Program.

In reflecting about this unusual year, Rosa said that she was frightened because COVID is new and she was unsure about what to do.  She was also really scared because she had to be in lockdown to protect herself and her family.  She thought she was not going to be able to study again.Then, she received the news that Briya was going to have distance learning.  She was excited to continue learning, but it was also challenging.  She had to not only focus on her studies, but also on her children’s classes.  She woke up at 12:00 AM every day to finish all her homework.

Rosa noted that Briya staff has been very supportive during these rough timesShe received a computer to continue studying from home and a debit card with emergency funds. Rosa heartfully voiced that “Briya makes all immigrant people who come to the US feel more comfortable in this country by helping them learn a new language and to not be scared in a new place. My children Miguel and Rosemary tell me that I am a super mom because I am studying, I am going to graduate, and they see all the hard work I am putting into my studies.