Pilar Bermeo has a drive to better educate herself.
That says a lot coming from a medical doctor with a few degrees under her belt.
Bermeo recently completed the PowerPoint class offered at New Community Adult Learning Center at 563 Orange St. in Newark. Previously, she also took the GED and English Level 2 classes.
“I wanted to speak more fluently,” said Bermeo, a native of Ecuador. The mother of four grown children, Bermeo worked as a physician in Ecuador for seven years before her family fled their home country in the midst of political upheaval.
It was in the late 1990s that Bermeo said both she and her husband lost their jobs amidst political turmoil in Ecuador as a new regime took over the government. Her mother-in-law, who lived in New Jersey, helped Bermeo’s family get their affairs in order to immigrate to the U.S. With her suitcase packed, Bermeo, her husband and their four boys left all that they had known to move to Newark. She left behind her dream of one day becoming director of the local hospital in Daule, Ecuador.
After moving to the United States, things were not easy for Bermeo. She tried applying for physician jobs but was turned away due to her lack of English skills. Instead, she was given options such as volunteering or working the overnight shift, neither of which were feasible for her as a parent who needed an income source. The couple decided to send their sons to private Catholic school and tuition, in addition to mortgage payments and other bills, mounted each month.
Bermeo said she continued working in the healthcare field, as a medical assistant, certified nursing assistant or a licensed phlebotomist. Learning English took a backseat for several years. But when a friend told her about New Community Adult Learning Center, Bermeo realized she needed to take those classes.
“She just wants to feel part of this society,” her PowerPoint course instructor, Marisol Ramirez, said. “To be a part of it, you need a clear voice to express all your thoughts, and for that she needed to speak better English and work on her phonics and speech to improve her knowledge and confidence,” Ramirez added.
In addition to PowerPoint, Bermeo took advantage of the GED and English Level 2 classes offered at the Adult Learning Center. She plans to take the GED exam in the future. The center also offers free health clinics, computer and citizenship classes.
“I wanted to show my children effort,” Bermeo said. “It could be an example for them.”
New Community Adult Learning Center is located at 563 Orange St. in Newark. For more information, call 973-558-5536.