At home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Trésor Mwali was a student in medical school. He also worked a part-time job helping people with computers. “But when I moved here, I couldn’t do that because I didn’t have anything that showed I had studied for it,” he said.
After moving to the U.S. in 2014, he worked as a housekeeper—a job that motivated him to return to school. “The job that I was doing, I didn’t like it. Every day when I was going over there I was like, ‘I’m tired of this job. I need to do something else.’” He shared this with his manager, who told him, “‘Just work hard, and once you finish [college] you can do something else.’” That was his motivation for going back to school. He also wanted to be a role model. “As I am the oldest in my family, I have to be an example for my younger brother and sister. I cannot tell them to go to college if I’m not going to college.”
He knew people from the Congo who had gone to CCV, and they suggested that it would be a good place to restart his education. “I think CCV was the best choice for me because as a new person living in Vermont, you have a new language that you have to speak, which is different from the languages I used to speak…I think it was the best idea for me to have a small classroom where you can ask questions, [and] people are patient to listen to you.” He had support from advisors at CCV and VSAC. His instructors were always available for questions and help—and some of them still are. “Even right now when I have trouble in something that I don’t understand, I’m still asking my teacher from CCV, and they respond to me like I’m still a student.”
Trésor worked nights while he was studying at CCV, and graduated with an associate degree in IT in 2019. This fall, after working as an intern and on contracted jobs, he landed a full-time position as a technical support specialist at the Vermont State Employees Credit Union (VSECU). Though his journey through school wasn’t easy, it was well worth it. “When I got a degree, that degree helped me to do what I want. Today I have a better life: I rent, I just got married two months ago, [I’m] starting a new job, getting good pay, [I] work less.”
In addition to his responsibilities here in Vermont, Trésor runs a non-profit helping orphans and other vulnerable children in the Congo. He is currently working to build an orphanage and school in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, and he says that in addition to the information technology skills he gained at CCV, his education also prepared him for this non-profit work.
From a young age, Trésor knew he would pursue higher education. “It’s always in my mind, like ‘I have to do something, I have to go to college to have experience in something that I can do, something that I love.” And now, “I love what I’m doing. I love computer stuff, I’m working with them and it’s really amazing for me.” He’s currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Champlain College, and says he won’t stop there. “I’m trying to continue my education,” he says. “I’m thinking of getting maybe one day a master’s degree, [and] why not a PhD?”