Marrero finds success in new life

The first job Rosana Marrero had when she came to the United States from Colombia five years ago was cleaning bathrooms.

"I knew the only way I could get out of that was by studying and learning," she said. "I came here because I wanted to have a better standard of living."

But not knowing English made it hard for her to get ahead, even though the people in the area where she was living in New Jersey spoke mostly Spanish.

She came to visit friends in Carson City two years ago.

"I fell in love with this area," she said. But she soon discovered fewer people here spoke her native language.

So she looked into English classes offered at Western Nevada Community College.

"I wasn't working so I took all the classes that I could," she said. "I studied all day long."

Soon she received her general-education diploma and began taking academic courses at the college, pursuing an associate's degree in business administration -- in which she has excelled.

Marrero was one of 15 students inducted this year into the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, with a 3.9 grade-point average.

"I think God helped me to take this way," she said. "I have great people here."

About 20 people went to the ceremony to support her when she was inducted into the honor society.

"They asked us if we were friends or family and we said, 'We're her family,'" said Teri Zutter, director of the Adult Basic Education program.

"Oh, my goodness, it was so great when all those people came into the room," Rosana said. "Teri gave me flowers. It was really great.

"Hispanics in Carson City should all be grateful for Teri. She supports anyone who comes here for help in English and she's always friendly with everyone."

Despite her successes, Marrero still faces challenges in a new land. Her parents and one sister are still in Colombia. Another sister lives in Mexico City, and a third sibling lives with her in Carson City.

Her parents visited in August, and she tries to plan a trip to her homeland every year.

She misses the food.

"In New Jersey, it was easier because they had Colombian restaurants," she said. "You can find ingredients here for Mexican food, but not for mine."

But overall, she said, the benefits outweigh the negatives.

"Everyone I've met here has been amazing to me," she said. "That's why I love Nevada -- I have found so many opportunities here."

Marrero is an administrative assistant in the college's Adult Basic Education program and plans to find a job in human resources once she graduates.

After that, she is considering earning a bachelor's degree in international business.


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