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Carol Peniche
International student Carol is building her English skills through classes and working at Rep Stage.

When Carol Peniche decided to leave her home in Brazil to study in the United States, her family was shocked.

“They said, ‘Are you crazy?’” the personal stylist recalled. “’You are good here with your job, and you are not young. You’re old and a mother.’”

Peniche, who was 35 at the time, wanted to learn English and eventually pursue a social sciences degree. She pushed her family’s doubts aside, moved to Ellicott City with her husband and daughter and in 2019, enrolled at Howard Community College (HCC).

“I found Howard Community College through a friend who studied here,” she said. “When my husband talked with our friend and saw the school, we decided this would be the perfect college for me.”

Her first classes at HCC’s English Institute focused on spelling, pronunciation and conversation, she said.

“At the English Institute, everyone is very kind with international students,” Peniche said. “I know it's very hard because everyone has a different background, culture and language, but I think everyone who works there is very helpful.”

Along with taking classes at HCC, Peniche worked as an assistant at Rep Stage, the only professional regional theater in the country in residence at a community college.

“I knew if I was with American speakers, I would learn more,” she said.

Peniche’s responsibilities included helping with the theater’s mail, calendar and performance preparations.

“It was very, very good for me,” she said. “I was feeling insecure, because I didn’t know how to express myself… They were so welcome and they helped me, they taught me. It was a great experience, for sure.”

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