"Don’t ever give up on your dreams" -TTC Alumni Speaker, Sidonie Gbazale

Sidonie Gbazale, a TTC alumni and graduate of the School of Nursing at CCRI, shared her personal story from Ivory Coast to Rhode Island at the TTC graduation this past December. The theme was about how hard work and passion to achieve the American Dream. Thank you, Sidonie, for sharing your story.


My name is Sidonie Gbazale and I am from Ivory Coast, West Africa.  It was not an easy road to arrive where I am today, but through the grace of God, family, friends and the support of various teachers that I have encountered along my path and who have contributed to the realization of my dream, here I am.

The beginning of my journey takes me years back to my hometown in West Africa. Because of financial issues, I did not have the chance to graduate from high school.  That was the end of my education and my dream to be a midwife, I thought.  Many years later, I moved to the United States and everything changed.

When I had first arrived in my new country, I didn't expect any miracles to happen quickly since I did not speak English. But I quickly decided to register for ESL classes at the Genesis Center in Providence. I was determined to learn English and slowly my dream of becoming a midwife resurfaced. After my English improved, I decided to try to get my high school diploma. I enrolled in the National External Diploma Program, NEDP, and after only three months, I had earned my high school diploma.

The next step in my journey was to find a way to enroll in college to study nursing.  It was then that I met Marie and was blessed to learn about Transition to College.  Because of TTC, I was getting closer to my dream. Marie and her team played a significant role in my education. Through this program, I was able to work closely with teachers who allowed me to excel in subjects, where I had previously struggled. They provided the guidance necessary for me to move on to higher education.

Thereafter, through the guidance of the Transition to College program, I enrolled at CCRI. Through the TTC program, I learned about the careers that would be worth pursuing in regard to future job trends, and a career in the health field was top on my list.

Prior to entering CCRI, I received guidance about which direction I should take in regard to courses that would help me enter the nursing program.  I remember Marie constantly checking on me throughout my entire path to be sure I was on the right track. Having that support was a great help because college is a difficult sea to navigate if you do not have the proper guidance to help you through, especially as an ESL student trying to adjust to the American educational system. It would not have been easy to do it all alone.

After years of hard work and guidance, working as a CNA, raising a family and being a student, I was able to study and pass the nursing entrance exam.  However, during my nursing education, I faced many hurdles; however, those hurdles aided me in becoming the person that I am today. I encountered many difficulties, which at times made me reconsider my academic abilities. Despite those challenges, I learned to adjust to the obstacles that came my way, and I decided to work harder than I ever had in my entire life to make it through. Overtime, I started excelling in my courses. I even started helping other struggling students who were having a hard time with some of the nursing subjects. After years of hard work, sacrifices, and challenges, I was able to graduate among the top students of my nursing program and landed a job shortly after graduation.

I want to thank Marie again, as she played a tremendous role in my education because even after I left the program, she still guided me. She made sure I took the necessary steps that were needed in order to reach my goals even though I was no longer in the TTC program.

Transition to College is a good program that should be highly supported by numerous agencies and governmental organizations due to the amazing job it does to improve the lives of many people who may have given up on their dreams. This program guides the students step by step from the beginning to the end to insure that the students have the proper tools needed to advance.  There are not too many programs in the state that do so.

Transition to College is a program that brought my shattered dreams back to life.  Its staff makes it their personal mission to make sure any individual who works hard can reach their goals. Tommy Hilfiger once said, "The road to success is not easy to navigate, but with hard work, drive and passion, it's possible to achieve the American dream."  My life was not easy, nor was it easy being a non-English native to achieve the career that I have today.  But with determination and persistence, I did it. 

Congratulations, graduates, for completing TTC.  As you go forward, the only advice I can give you is to never take the hardships and failures you may encounter as a reason to give up. The adversities that you may come upon should be learning experiences; use them to push you to forward.  Don’t ever give up on your dreams, no matter what the circumstances of your life. If others were able to reach success, you will, too, in due time.   Congratulations to all of you and much luck as you go forward.