Carolina Sundergill - EARN Maryland Program - Asian American Center of Frederick (AACF) – Success Story - Workforce Development and Adult Learning
Carolina Sundergill's experience with the EARN Maryland (EARN) Community Health Workers (CHW) Training Program is unique. She completed her associate’s degree when she was 16 years old in her country.
Migrating to the United States was a difficult process for Carolina and her family. She witnessed her parent’s resiliency and passion as they sought the best for her and her siblings despite being challenged by a limited English proficiency. Soon after immigrating, she got married and gave birth to a daughter. Almost simultaneously, she began studying English by enrolling in English as a Second Language (ESL) courses offered by every organization she could find that provided free classes for immigrants. She couldn’t work, because her daughter was too little, but she was learning a lot. When people told Carolina that she was completing her education too fast and that it wasn’t necessary, her answer was always, “Why not go fast if those are the opportunities that are in store for me?”
When Carolina’s daughter started school last year, Carolina came to the Asian American Center of Frederick (AACF) and volunteered her morning hours to help staff and clients. Later she heard about the AACF EARN CHW Project and applied to the program. After graduating successfully from the first 40-hour training, Carolina began working part-time as a Medical CHW and Interpreter for AACF customers.
But Carolina didn’t stop there. She signed up for another CHW/Community Interpreter Training offered through the EARN program.
Being a CHW trainee gave Carolina the opportunity to interact with other high-achieving participants and experienced CHWs. AACF personnel also helped her connect with the Frederick Memorial Hospital Office for Community Interpreter Services.
“The training program often seemed to me very hard,” Carolina explains, “and I often found myself challenged by stereotypes and stigma, even within my Hispanic-Latino community.” One of her favorite quotes captures the driving force behind her pursuit of education: “I can’t afford the luxury of being closed-minded.” Her advice to students is something that she learned from her mother: “Ask questions. It’s better to stay ignorant for five minutes than to stay ignorant for the rest of your life.”
Carolina’s dedication to her continued professional development is paying off. One month ago, she became a full-time employee at Frederick Memorial Hospital as a CHW and Spanish Community Interpreter.