My name is Elodie Deneassembaye, and I am a junior at Queens University of Charlotte majoring in Human Service Studies with a French minor. This semester I have had the privilege of interning with The Nest Academy!
Part of the reason The Nest resonates with me so strongly is my own personal story. I was born in Chad, but raised in Cameroon until I became a refugee and moved to the United States of America in 2010. Due to the civil war in Chad, I had to flee to Cameroon, where my mother’s parents had found safety. My mother, siblings, and I had to walk to Cameroon, leaving my father behind, as we had no idea if  he was even still alive. When I was in Cameroon, I had to assist my mother in raising my siblings by selling food or begging on the street for money so that my family and I could eat and pay for our education. Things were difficult, but I never gave up because I promised my mother when I was three years old that I would go to school and receive an education that no one in my family had received before. Females, in particular, were not educated in my family because it was presumed that they would stay at home, have children, and take care of the house. My mother worked hard to ensure that I would be the first woman in fmaily history to go to school and the first generation to complete a college education. My mother, as a refugee in Cameroon, made it a point to ask for us to be relocated so that my siblings and I might have a better education and future. We then moved to America, where we didn’t speak the language.

I have enjoyed working at The Nest and being around the students because I recall what it was like to be a newcomer to the country and being put into a public school system while speaking no English. When I first arrived in America, I spent a year in public school, and no one bothered to make sure I understood what was going on or even acknowledged my existence. I went to my lessons and sat in the corner reading a French and English dictionary. I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship from a family friend to attend a private school where I spent my days learning 1st-5th grade subjects with one teacher or volunteers. Because of their encouragement and assistance, I was able to earn and be part of the AB junior honors society throughout middle school and graduate high school with a 3.9 GPA. The students here will be able to succeed and be some of the first in their family to graduate thanks to the work of the Nest Academy. I am confident that these students are receiving the personal attention they require to achieve, and I am grateful to have been a part of it!