Stamford student earns top honors

Maria Farfan photographed in her home in Stamford, Conn., June 13, 2011. Farfan will receive her high school diploma Wednesday night after completing Stamford's adult ed program. Photo: Keelin Daly / Stamford Advocate

Maria Farfan, a 49-year-old graduate of Stamford’s adult education program was honored at Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting, in recognition of being named Adult Learner of The Year by the Connecticut Association for Adult And Continuing Education.

I first met Farfan about a year ago, when I profiled her for a story about her journey through adult education — a hard fought struggle that at times seemed like too much for her, she told me at the time. But when I saw her again last night, the newly minted graduate of Sanford Brown, was all smiles, full of hopes to finally get the job of her dreams: a permanent medical assistant position at Stamford Hospital. She’s no longer in the dingy makeshift boarding house she called home last year; after the article ran, she was approached by a landlord who offered her a much more livable studio apartment she said Tuesday night.

“It’s wonderful. Everything,” she said. “I’m so happy.”

Here’s what Stamford Public Schools spokeswoman Sarah Arnold read about Farfan before honoring her at the Board meeting:

Maria Faran of Stamford’s Adult Education Program has been named Adult Learner of the Year by the Connecticut Association for Adult And Continuing Education. Last year, Maria experienced the depths of despair: she had lost her job and was evicted from her apartment. Maria had dropped out of high school 31 years ago, married at age 17 and subsequently had two children. Although she had always dreamed of becoming a nurse, that was not possible without a high school and advanced degree. Maria became a Certified Nursing Assistant, a job she enjoyed because it allowed her to help people. She then heard about the National External Diploma Program and decided to make one last attempt to earn her diploma. Working one-on-one with a facilitator encouraged her to believe that she could do it. With the help of her guidance counselor, Teresa Cavaliero, Maria worked relentlessly, with incredible determination and diligence, until she succeeded in acquiring the skills needed to accomplish the many challenging requirements of the program. Recently, Maria completed her studies to become a medical assistant and plans to pursue work in that field. She was honored for all of her achievements at CAACE’s annual conference in March.

Congratulations, Maria!

Maggie Gordon