Dahiana Rodriguez arrived in the United States from the Dominican Republic in 2005 with a college degree in psychology and with the steely determination she’d need to use her education in a new country.
Before long, Dahiana found herself in Rhode Island. By 2008, though, she had also discovered that transferring professional credentials from one country to another without help can be easier said than done. Then she heard about Dorcas Place and its Welcome Back Center program that helps foreign-trained health care professionals to acclimate their skills and training to this country.
“They told me that they could help people with a bachelor’s degree to get a new start,” Dahiana said. She described the Welcome Back Center—and especially director Manuela Raposo and Ana Vargas—as pivotal to getting focused on a career in America.
“They had the right information. They told me exactly what I needed. The big thing was they showed me that I did not have to start all over,” she said.
Besides getting her Dominican education credentials established here, Dahiana also got her career back in motion with a position at Dorcas International Institute. Now 27, Dahiana works on staff at Dorcas International Institute as Adult Basic Education Student Liaison and also serves here as an individual case manager for students pursuing their GED certificate. In these roles, she said, being foreign-born herself as well as bilingual is an advantage to her as she works to help her students.
But that’s not the end of Dahiana’s inspiring story.
She is about to begin working toward a master’s degree in social work at Rhode Island College. With that, she hopes to eventually find herself in a clinical setting such as a hospital where she would like to work with children who have behavioral issues such as difficulties adjusting in school.
“I have learned a lot here, what with all the different populations we serve at Dorcas,” Dahiana said. “I see many different types of cases that will be helpful for my future.”