When Lydia Bellil moved to the U.S. from France when her husband got a new job, she knew she would finish her college education. Her first hurdle was to improve her English, so she headed to Truman College. Her husband had taken English classes there and it was close to their home, so it was an easy choice.

She started ESL classes in the fall of 2016, and by the fall of 2018, she was starting credit classes. That’s when she discovered the TriO Program, which helps first-generation, low income students and students with disabilities to achieve their higher education goals.

“Before I got to Truman, I had never really plotted out my goals. I knew I wanted to finish my studies, but they helped me set smaller and larger goals so that I could really be successful,” Lydia said.

She enjoyed her ESL classes, and said that the Truman staff, faculty, and students were all very welcoming and kind – she loved going to school. She also took advantage of tutoring and the resources TriO provided.

She started ESL classes in the fall of 2016, and by the fall of 2018 she was starting credit classes. She had started her college education in France, but because her credits did not transfer, she had to start from the beginning.

“I felt so supported at Truman, it really helped me be successful and love school. I love the connection I have with my teachers,” she said.

After taking some math and science classes, then getting introduced to coding by a friend and teaching herself in her free time, Lydia discovered her love for computer science. The summer of 2020, she finished her Associate in Arts and her next step is a double major at Illinois Tech – computer science and cyber security engineering. Eventually she plans to earn her master’s degree as well.

“Computer science is an area where you keep learning all the time, it’s always changing and evolving so you always have to learn more. I love that,” Lydia explained.

Ready to improve your English skills and discover what’s next? Learn about ESL at City Colleges of Chicago here.

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