VALHALLA, N.Y -- The American Dream is alive and well, thanks in large part to students like White Plain's Dario Cano.
Currently finishing his final semester at Westchester Community College, Cano came to the United States from Honduras at age 19, not knowing a word of English. Today, he holds a 3.79 GPA and hopes to one day become an electrical engineer.
"The first time I tried to learn English I could not understand a single word, all I could say was 'yes," said Cano. "I immediately felt America was not for me, and wanted to go back to Honduras." However, after talking to his mother, Cano decided to give the United States one more shot. "We went to Westchester Community College to see if they had classes available," he said. "I went and took the English placement tests and got a zero. When I talked to the director of the program I was told they wouldn’t accept me since I didn't know a word of English. Right then, I cried. I didn’t know what to do."
After spending a few weeks learning the basics, Dario eventually reapplied and was accepted into WCC's English as a Second Language program, and became fluent in less than 18 months. Now, he is completing his final semester of credit courses at WCC and hopes to continue his studies at a 4 year university. Dario has already received letters of acceptance to University of Buffalo and Farmingdale State College, but his dream is to enroll in the electrical engineering program at SUNY Maritime College in the Bronx.
Cano credits his family for supporting him during his challenging first months, where his one-word vocabulary had him saying 'yes' to everything, even when he didn't know exactly what he was agreeing to, he notes with a chuckle. His dreams within reach, Cano hopes to one day use the skills he's learned at WCC to help his native Hondurans.
"I want to share something with my country; I'd like to one day help the people over there." he says. Until then, Dario's friends, family and the community at Westchester Community College certainly feels like home.