“So blessed to have an opportunity that most people don’t have: to get an education.”
The importance of education was instilled upon Illinois Eta Alice Bernard at a very young age. Alice and her family are from Haiti, an island southeast of Florida, which shares its eastern border with the Dominican Republic. Understanding the education system is not strong in Haiti, her parents, younger brother and Alice immigrated to the United States of American when she was just six years old.
Alice can only imagine what it was like for her parents. In Haiti, her dad worked for a private security company and her mom worked in finance and payroll. But it was not easy to transition their professional experiences and education into the American workforce when the family moved to Bensonville, Illinois, in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.
Her father had to start a brand-new career at the age of 40 in a new country. He worked primarily in construction and was able to work for Ube, a ride-share app, to supplement his income. “He did a little bit of everything to provide for us,” Alice explains.
Unfortunately, Alice’s mother was unable to work for a long time, as her degrees did not transfer over from Haiti and she did not speak English very well. But she did not give up her dream to work. Alice remembers her mom studying at 7 a.m. every morning after getting her and her brother ready for school. The hard work paid off. Now, her mother is working at Rush Hospital in Oak Park, Illinois.
Alice’s parents’ intentions to provide opportunities for their children and motivate them have resulted in just that. Inspired by her mom’s work in health care, Alice is a sophomore studying nursing at Millikin University. Alice’s brother is in his first year at Augustana College studying sports and business marketing.
About her parents, Alice says: “I admire their bravery for my brother and I to get a good education.” What an amazing story of the sacrifice of parents to do what is best for their children!