INSPIRING LIVES

I’m really happy I chose Broward College!

Karen and Erica

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A conversation between a newlywed and a single mom during an Uber ride on a Super Bowl Sunday ended up being a game changer for both women.

Karen Moreno, traversing town with her new husband, lamented about how few women were in her computer classes. Uber driver Erica Guzman, who had just earned her first associate degree, wondered aloud about finding the best career path to support herself and her toddler. The two women connected.

“What started as a casual conversation with newlyweds turned out to be a life changing moment for me,” said Erica.

Karen and her husband Stephen, a software developer, suggested Erica begin taking courses at Broward College and work toward a software development degree.

“We encouraged Erica to enroll for the same degree as mine and to take the same classes so we could help each other,” Karen said. “We exchanged phone numbers that day. Some weeks later, she sent me a text, and we coordinated the class schedules. The next time we met again was our first day of class.”

Their path to higher education was made smoother with financial assistance: Karen merited a donor-funded American Dream Scholarship and Erica received two grants. Together, they studied, navigated challenges and deadlines, and pushed each other to do their best work.

“Our relationship got us through our courses,” said Erica. “We held each other accountable, we reminded each other constantly of our plan to not only succeed but to excel! Karen would never accept anything but my best effort in everything, and I did the same for her. We were determined to complete the degree within a year, and there were many moments when we were exhausted, overwhelmed and felt like we were at wits’ end. In those moments, our friendship was what gave us the extra push we needed.”

Their friendship extended to extracurricular activities, including involvement in Broward College’s Women in Tech Club, established with the goal of diversifying the computer tech profession. Computer science Professor Michelle Levine encouraged them to get involved.

“The Women in Tech Club excited both of us,” said Erica. “I mean, this was literally what started our friendship! We immediately became members and made sure we were actively involved in the club’s endeavors regardless of our crazy class schedules.”

Women in Tech gave Karen and Erica a social network of women in the field as well as an opportunity for hands-on experience. “Erica and I worked together planning and fundraising for a successful women empowerment symposium,” said Karen. “After that event, we both were offered positions at Broward College to work as tutors.”

As the women approached graduation, Karen was excited to walk the stage, but Erica wanted to skip the whole ceremony. “She didn’t want to go to graduation,” said Karen. “To give her a little push, I bought her a cap and gown so she couldn’t refuse that important date. I couldn’t imagine graduating, not having her by my side.”

Last May, both Karen and Erica earned associate degrees in software development. Empowered by Broward, both already have jobs in the computer field. Erica began working at Complyright last month, and she lined up an interview for Karen, who was offered and has accepted employment with the business. And both are continuing their educational journeys, pursuing bachelor’s degrees – Karen in information technology and Erica in Information Technology project management – at Broward College.

Erica sums up the experience for herself and for her friend. “If not for Broward College, I would not have had the opportunity to change the course of my life. The faculty and staff at Central Campus have been so encouraging and inspiring. I’m really happy I chose Broward College!”

 

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