SUMMIT, NJ - Access to education can make all the difference in an individual's life and, for those who are learning English later in life, a strong support network is essential.

When Daniela Hildago first came to the United States as an au pair, she knew she would have an unforgettable experience with her host family. What she didn’t expect was an incredible opportunity realized, thanks to a community who treated her like family. As many au pairs do, she began ESL classes at The Connection in Summit to improve her English, and better understand cultural nuances and idioms.

During her time caring for her host family and meeting other children, Daniela became more interested in helping children with learning disabilities. She knew that she wanted to follow this passion, and approached the people who had been supporting her studies for one-on-one tutoring and mentorship. Not limiting their help, her Connection family guided her during the University application process, and she was quickly accepted to Rider University.

Sign Up for E-News

Daniela’s mentors stayed with her, assisting with cultural nuances and with studying at this new level. They encouraged her each semester, and this May, celebrated with her as she received her M.A. in Applied Psychology from the Rider University College of Liberal Arts and Science. Now as a certified Applied Behavior Analyst, Daniela is ready to produce meaningful and socially-significant changes throughout her community.

When individuals come to The Connection for English as Second language classes, they soon realize that the program is more than worksheets and textbooks, but rather a community dedicated to their personal and professional growth featuring an individualized approach to each student. As one ESL volunteer stated, "I am proud to be a part of a program where friendship and community are its pillars."

For more information regarding the ESL program at The Connection, call Jane Walbridge 908-273-4242, ext. 114.