When Joseph Bigot arrived from his native Haiti in 2017, he spoke mostly Creole and had to adjust to a very different education system. But he knew what he wanted, and he wasn’t afraid to do the work needed to get it.
At Miami-Dade Acceleration Academies, he had all the support he needed to learn English and power through to his diploma. At age 17, he walked across the stage to claim it.
He was also one of three grads to earn an Academic Excellence Award.
“This graduate did not back down and did not lose focus. Instead, this graduate was resilient and committed,” Graduation candidate advocate Erick Velis said in awarding Joseph the honor. “It was a wonderful experience to work with you. You are what you repeatedly do.”
Joseph began at a traditional high school in Georgia, but he found the personalized approach of Acceleration Academies to be a better fit. Working at his own pace, he made steady progress through his coursework and knew that help was only a few steps — or, during the Covid pandemic, a Zoom call — away.
Math, for instance, was a challenge. But math coach Eliane Hernandez was always ready to help walk him through the equations. “If I would have questions, I would just text her,” he said. “She would say, ‘Meet me on Zoom and I can help you.’ ”
Whenever MDAA hosted a presentation on career and educational opportunities, Joseph made sure to attend. And over time, his skills and confidence grew.
“He was always asking, ‘Do you think I can do it?’ ” recalled Indira Mardis academy coordinator and career/life coach. Her response: “You know you can do it, and I’m here to help you.”
Joseph plans to study real estate and business in college, and perhaps to own his own firm some day. He’s working hard not just for himself, but for his family — including his mother, who remains in Haiti and to whom Joseph sends financial support.
Joseph is a humble young man with a brilliant smile. At graduation, he took pains to praise the MDAA team members who had helped him realize his goal.
“They are the best people,” he said. “They make sure you get the work done.”