When Roberto Acevedo came to the United States in 2009 from Guatemala, he could not speak a word of English. In just four years, thanks to classes he took at the Community Center, he mastered enough language skills to go back to high school, complete a college degree and fulfill his dream of becoming a flight attendant.
"The amazing volunteers at the Center believed in me and my potential," Roberto said. "They not only treated me like a student, but they hugged me like I was family."
Born in the United States, Roberto went back to Guatemala as a young child, where he was raised until his teens. He then returned to complete his studies and begin life back in America with his singular goal in mind. He recalls feeling the excitement of air travel when he was 11 years old—and remembers seeing flight attendants coming down the aisle. He told himself that one day, he would be doing that job, flying around the world.
Today, he is a flight attendant with American Airlines, and loves his job immensely. He says that the key to success is to never give up.
"My accent and my broken English didn’t stop me from wanting to learn more, so I kept going and didn’t stop until I knew that I was ready and prepared for anything that life put in my way," Roberto said.
Here at the Center, we are humbled by Roberto’s achievements, but not surprised. With his drive and perseverance, he represents what can happen when neighbors help neighbors onto a path of self-sufficiency by providing both support and encouragement.
When asked what advice he has for others who are struggling, Roberto urges them to “always work hard and find those who believe in you.” He told us, “I have a space in my heart that belongs to the Community Center, because they believed in me since day one, and were there for me every step of the way.”