PROVIDENCE, R.I. – April 30, 2018 — Henock Constant was 19 years old when he left his native Port-au-Prince, Haiti to emigrate to America for an education and a better future.
His arrival to the United States brought him to Brooklyn, N.Y. where he began his studies at New York’s City College. Marriage, children, and a move to Rhode Island soon followed. Without a college diploma, Constant’s career options were limited.
But while working as a teaching assistant at E-cubed Academy in Providence, his co-workers urged him to return to college and earn a degree. It is also when the East Providence resident discovered URI’s Feinstein College of Education and Professional Studies in Providence and a program that suited his busy schedule and lifestyle.
“That was the best decision that I had made in a long time,” said Constant, who will earn his bachelor of interdisciplinary studies degree in Human Studies May 20 at URI’s main commencement ceremonies.
Constant said that working full time, raising his growing family, and attending classes was often overwhelming. The problem was, he said, that he had been out of school for so long that he had almost forgotten how to study and write term papers.
He’d considered quitting school several times, but quickly reminded himself of why he was doing this, and made up his mind to persevere.
URI’s Finish What You Started Program Coordinator Nancy Rabidoux worked with Constant from the start when he enrolled in 2013 and helped him stay on track.
“Henock embodies everything an adult learner should be. Even when he hit a rough patch he didn’t let it get in the way of his dream to finish his degree. He has even taken Saturday classes to get it done,” Rabidoux said.
Constant said that every time he felt overwhelmed, “I would get an email from her (Nancy Rabidoux), as if she knew the right time that I needed encouragement.”
Constant said that his four children also gave him the motivation to earn his degree.
“I have always told them that I will not accept quitters in this family and that everything we start, we finish. So for me, not to accomplish this goal was non-negotiable.”
Fast forward five years, and Constant is now preparing for life as an alumnus of URI.
“it is still all so surreal to me that this is happening. I know I might cry with joy, but I will feel proud,” he said.