Name: Pathy Ekal
Class: Heartland Class of 2012
Degree: Associate in Applied Science
Only knowing the English words “yes” and “no,” Pathy came to the U.S. at the age of 28 from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2008. He left his native country to pursue his studies, find better job opportunities and lead a better a life. Soon after arriving in the U.S. he enrolled at Heartland to begin pursuing his goals. His positive spirit and motivation is inspiring. Pathy has had an amazing journey with more still to come.
Interviewer: Bridget Anders
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Pathy: My name Pathy Ekal. I graduated in, I mean from Heartland, I graduated in 2012. I had an associate degree in applied science.
Bridget: Now, you are not originally from the U.S. Can you tell me about how your transition here was?
Pathy: It wasn’t that easy. First of all, I had a language barrier, and everything was like a blackout. So it was hard for me to understand people and also to be able express, to talk to people. The transition was very hard. And what I did was start getting some ESL class here at Heartland, and we went from there. After I started taking my ESL class, things started getting more easy for me, so because I was practicing more. And I started taking credit classes. And it wasn’t that easy coming from a French country. And then also, I went, back home I already went to school. I got a degree in marketing. And then it was like starting all over, and then, you know, starting everything from, you know, from zero. It’s not that easy. I wasn’t expecting that probably one day I would be done. I had to live here in this country, so I knew the best thing to do was just to do my best in order to succeed later on.
Bridget: Why did you choose Heartland?
Pathy: Yea, I choose Heartland because first, that is, I mean it was close to where I was living, because since I have been here in the U.S. I have been living here in normal, and then a friend of mine took me here to Heartland.
Bridget: And, can you tell me a little more how your international experience influenced your time here at Heartland.
Pathy: Yea, my international experience was great, and by the time I met people with a good spirit here at Heartland at the ESL program. They were doing everything to make us feel comfortable, and being in this type of environment helped me first. That was, and then they would try to motivate us, you know, because every time even when you were just not feeling confident they were making us feel confident, you know. And then, because you know, when you are learning a new language, when you are learning in the type of environment like this where you are learning things sometimes you feel like you’re not doing good. And then when people are like okay encouraging you saying like, “Oh, you are doing fine,” so that make you like feel confident. And then I like the environment, and I think as an international student that was a good experience.
Bridget: And, how are these experiences shaping your future?
Pathy: I would say, because now I can say I feel more confident in what I am doing based off everything I learned here. And I think that today is, I am succeeding here, because I can tell when I started here I was working. I was just doing the janitor at ISU. And, you know, not having a degree here was hard to find a job, but because of that degree because of everything I went through all the experiences I got here from Heartland Community College so that is why today I think I am doing good. And I have a different type of job. I have been through different jobs. So before after ISU when I got my degree I started working at AFNI and then I went to Ranstad then to ISU that shows me that the base of what I learned here I kept improving. So I think that everything I learned here shaped that’s how everything I mean based off everything I learned here that’s why I think I can say I am succeeding today.
Bridget: That’s great. Do you have any advice for future international students?
Pathy: The peak advice I would give them is never give up even when you feel it’s hard. Just keep going. You know, sometimes it’s hard at the beginning, but by the time you got your degree you will forget all the pain everything you went through. And then I think that it’s also the price of success I mean to be successful in your life I think you need to give more you need sacrifice. So that is the advice I am going to give to international students they need sacrifice. It is not easy at the beginning but at the end of the tunnel so they can see the light.