Students of CNA Class

Opening the Doors to Opportunity

As a City, we are committed to supporting and promoting the safety, health, and well-being of all of our residents and providing services to all, regardless of their immigration status.

Building the occupational skills of students to increase their employability.

This summer, our Commission on Immigrant Rights & Citizenship hired Tagesech Wabeto as its new Outreach & Referral Specialist.

Photo of Tagesech Wabeto
Tagesech Wabeto

Tagesech, a Cambridge resident, is a native of Ethiopia. She spent over nine years as an Outreach Worker for the City’s Community Engagement Team where she honed her skills at outreach to the community.

She is also a graduate of the Cambridge Community Learning Center’s (CLC) Bridge to College Program and earned a bachelor’s degree from Lesley University.

Tagesech brings great experience and a deep knowledge of Cambridge immigrant communities to her new position.

“Immigrants need encouragement to participate and overcome language and cultural barriers that can inhibit their participation. I will work with families to get them more involved and hopefully connect them to the range of City services available to them.” – Tagesech Wabeto

Creating career growth opportunities

In addition to serving hundreds of adult learners in its ESOL and basic education classes, the CLC supports programs focused on building the occupational skills of students to increase their employability and earning potential.

For example, the CLC is partnering with the Academy for Healthcare Training to offer Home Health Aide and Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) training integrated with ESOL.

The programs give participants the chance to enter the healthcare field, an area with many career growth opportunities. In addition to academic and skills training, the program teaches job search skills, and in collaboration with the Cambridge Employment Program, also offers assistance with job placement.

After gaining experience as a CNA, some graduates continue their study for other health careers, such as nursing or occupational therapy.

Bernadette Charles-Sanon completed the home health aide training in hopes of advancing her skills. She was thrilled when CLC began offering the CNA training for English Language Learners. “There are a lot of elderly in Cambridge and I want to help them,” Charles-Sanon said.

Life-changing decisions

Bernadette Charles-Sanon and Haimanot Temesgen
Bernadette Charles-Sanon and Haimanot Temesgen

One day, Haimanot Temesgen was walking by 5 Western Avenue in Central Square (home of the CLC) with her 2-year-old son when she saw a sign advertising free English classes. She wasn’t sure she could manage a program with her young child, but she decided to stop in.

“It was a life-changing decision,” Temesgen said. “Another door opened in my life to give me a skill and a future. Caring for people, that’s what I want to give my life to.”

Program Coordinator Pat Murphy noted that, “Many CLC students come from cultures of caring, especially for the elderly. It’s a task that they do with joy and compassion.”

“The beauty of this amazing program is that it is free for the students: the training, the course materials, books, and even T passes for participants to be able to get here are paid for,” said CLC Director Maria Kefallinou, noting that all students enrolled in the program to date had completed the course. The program also helped the students with job applications. Most of the students that completed the course either have a job or are interviewing for a job.

The CNA training for English Language Learners program will be offered again in the fall of 2017 and the spring of 2018. Learn more at

Published by

Lee Gianetti

Director of Communications and Community Relations

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