“Esperanza gave me the hope I was desperately searching for.”

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There are many stories of true life transformations taking place at Esperanza all the time. We may not always be aware, see them happening before our eyes, or we may never hear how the work we’ve done has helped an individual or a family better their life circumstances and truly live life as abundantly as God desires for us. But then there are those moments when we receive a heartfelt and honest letter to simply say “Thank you”. Dr. Elizabeth Conde-Fraizer, Dean of Academics at Esperanza College received such a letter from Keoka Perkins, a graduate of Esperanza College.

Keoka Perkins is truly the embodiment of transformation. A person who walked through Esperanza’s doors after a life of hardship and began her journey in our EARN Center. From there, through the collaborative relationship between the college and the EARN Center, she heard about our educational opportunities and entered the door of academia at Esperanza College.

Below is her modified thank you letter (the original letter was five pages long!). A thank you to the many staff members at Esperanza who guided, encouraged and challenged her along the way.

To Dr. Conde-Frazier and President of Esperanza:

Have you ever heard, “When a person receives good service; they may tell only one other person. However, when they receive poor service they are quick to tell ten others versus telling the owner or person responsible for the business?” Well, I wanted to write this letter in reference to the time I spent at Esperanza College; which is the complete opposite of this illustration.

It all began when I first learned of Esperanza College from the EARN Center. In April of 2010, I lost my job at a local hospital. I was employed there for 9 years. This experience was very traumatic for me. When I applied for government assistance they referred me to the EARN Center at Esperanza. Before I lost my job, I remembered thinking and praying about going back to school to further my education. I am a single mother with four children who received no outside form of assistance to care for my children-not even child support. Paying for college would have been a struggle.

At the EARN Center during break, I was speaking with one of the supervisors about doing something different with my life. I shared with her how I need to do something else but do not know what. They knew very little about me but one of the supervisors suggested that I should look into Human Services. She shared with me that she thought I would be a perfect match in that field because of my past experience with nursing and my children. I told her that I do not think I would be a match with Human Services because I do not know how to assist people in that way- all my job experience had been in the medical field. The point of this story is to take note how I was resistant to suggestion. Hence, later I realized that it was really the Lord working through her but at that time I did not understand it.

One day a representative from Esperanza College came to the EARN Center to talk about the college and all it had to offer. The small class size, the Esperanza Grant, a new laptop, and the Christian atmosphere for a safe place for learning were a few things that caught my attention. That same day, I met with an admissions representative and started the admissions process.

I started my first semester at Esperanza College August 2010. However, during the course of my two years at Esperanza I faced multiple internal and external obstacles. Everything from placing my ailing grandmother in hospice dealing with two teenaged children acting out, self-doubt and insecurity, and through all this suffering physical, verbal and mental abuse from my then fiancé. How I managed those obstacles would determine the outcome of my success.  A professor at Esperanza College was the one person I confided in during these trying times. The college quickly became my place of refuge.

The genuine love and support that I felt when I was at Esperanza I have not experienced anywhere else. In the past, I had attended other academic institutions where I felt I was in the “land of the lost.” Attending those colleges, I felt like a number and when I left no one cared; I was simply replaced. I had no appointed advisor or counselor and I took courses as I felt was necessary. It felt like college was not for me. On the other hand, Esperanza was totally different. Professors prayed in the beginning of class and asked you if anyone needed special prayer. As a result, I really felt like I was part of a family at Esperanza. Writing assignments I would cry and fret over were only preparation for the future lengthier reports I would have to write at La Salle University, where I continued towards my Bachelor’s Degree upon receiving my Associates Degree in Community and Human Services at Esperanza College. Esperanza College served me well so that I could be successful at a four-year institution such as Le Salle where I’m happy to say I will be graduating from this May receiving my Bachelor of Arts in Social Work.

To repeat, when people have bad experiences they tell hundreds of people but when they experience something good they only tell a few. It was the experience I had at Esperanza that has allowed me to keep on pushing through to my goal. I wanted to succeed and so did Esperanza too. Although, losing my job was a traumatic experience for me, Esperanza was the best thing that happened to me. I do not have to look for a job anymore. With my degrees, I have a career; something that I love to do. Your team does excellent work with all the investments you put forth in the community by educating its’ members and beautifying the surrounding community. I am so grateful for Esperanza; you have been a true blessing to my family and me. Thank God for you! Esperanza gave me the hope I was desperately searching for.

Warm Regards,

Keoka M. Perkins