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Through the Eyes of a Case Manager: Adult Learners Persevere against the Odds

by Christine Suero, WIOA Case Manager

Brooklyn Public Library Adult Learning

Working in Adult Education has afforded me the opportunity to aid participants in a myriad of different ways. I joined the Brooklyn Public Library Adult Education staff a few months after the start of the pandemic. I was familiar with the responsibilities of the role, but navigating work under the conditions of the world, was new and foreign terrain.

We were living in difficult and trying times, but it was as if our students never skipped a beat. I have seen their dedication to attending virtual classes and their relentless desire to press on against all odds. Regardless of whether they were in class to better their English, prepare to obtain their HSE diploma or work towards achieving a career credential, they were determined to reach their goals.

It has been so beautiful and inspiring to see our participants achieve major milestones through the hardest of times. During my time at BPL, I have led two virtual graduation ceremonies with close to 200 graduates achieving their High School Equivalency Diploma and/or a Career Based Credential. Many have gone on to obtain new employment or enroll in universities. Each individual success story came with a lot of sacrifice and hard work. The combined efforts from our staff and participants is what continues to serve as the bedrock for our programming.

Our in-class workshops also help to fill a direct need for our participants. Arming our students with vital financial, mental health and social service resources has been invaluable to their development and progress. As they attended classes they also received information on how to invest in stocks, attend first time home buyers workshops, obtain tools to navigate trauma and so much more.

Case managers play an integral role in the success of adult learners. I have sat with and made space for fleeing migrants, domestic violence victims, and so many others with rich heartfelt experiences. We provide a direct linkage to the tools, resources and services that aid our participants in navigating their hardships. Though we may not be able to fix all the problems of the world, we can make much headway in our neighboring communities and our very own backyards.

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