Utica ACCESS Site Student of the Year

Congratulations to Besim on being chosen a New York Association for Community/Continuing Education (NYACCE) student of the year!

Besim was attending primary school in his home country of Bosnia when war broke out in 1993. He left school as his family moved into the mountains to stay safe. At 11 years-old, his family came to the United States, and Besim began his education once again through the Refugee Center in Utica, N.Y. Eventually, Besim enrolled in the public high school and began the 10th grade. The language barrier and his lack of a primary school education caused difficulties for Besim. He left public high school after significant struggles prevented him from completing the 11th grade. These struggles continued when he enrolled in computer classes at the local community college.

Although war and language barriers prevented Besim from pursuing a traditional education, Besim never gave up on education. In 2004, Besim enrolled in an ESL class at Madison-Oneida BOCES. As his language skills progressed, so did his confidence. Eventually, Besim transferred into ABE and HSE classes. Although it took a few tries, Besim passed the final part of his TASC test in 2016, realizing his goal of earning a high school equivalency diploma.

Besim’s strong work ethic goes beyond the classroom. As he was taking his ESL, ABE, and HSE classes, Besim was also working full time at a local grocery store. His employer was aware of, and encouraging, of Besim’s educational endeavors. Besim was motivated to complete his educational goals by the opportunities for promotion with his employer. Today, Besim is an assistant manager for produce, and hopes to one day become a store manager. Besim’s dedication to learning and strong work ethic is what makes him our student of the year!