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Novena Chanzu was an early childhood teacher in Kenya. Her mother, already a long time resident of the United States, longed to reunite the family. In 2014, green card approvals finally came through and Novena, her daughter, and her brother joined their mother in Upper Darby. Understanding the importance of higher education to her career, she immediately began to look for a suitable college where she could earn a degree in early childhood education. But how could she pursue a college degree while continuing to work full time in the education field and have time for family?

Enter the Achieve College Education (ACE) program which offered Novena exactly what she was looking for: evening college classes at a convenient location. “At age 38, I was able to go to school close to home, full-time, and complete courses in seven weeks. I could study, work, and still be a mother.” With the ACE program, Novena never had to choose between supporting her family and achieving her goal of getting a college education. “ACE allows you to live your life while going to school.”

Novena liked the small class sizes and the opportunity for one-on-one interaction with professors. Even as a new resident of the U.S., Novena felt a sense of belonging and enjoyed the supportive atmosphere created by program staff and fellow students.  

Now in Indiana, Novena plans to continue her education and pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education from Purdue University. Her ultimate goal is obtain a Ph.D. so she can teach at the college level. She wants to share her experience, encourage others to recognize the importance of education, and know that their academic goals are within reach.