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"Juliana Deno’s Journey: Do not let people bring you down" By Yairi Almonte

Updated: May 9

Juliana Deno was nine years old when she moved to the United States from the Dominican Republic. She had to get used to a new culture, language, and a new environment. Juliana had always been close to her family, and she felt protected around them. However, her family could not protect her from everything.

When Juliana started 4th grade in the United States, she faced many challenges. All her classes were in English, so she could not understand any of the lessons.

Teachers did not provide the support she needed, and she felt lost and confused most of the time.

As a result, her grades started to drop very quickly. Juliana felt her world crumbling down, but her struggles did not stop there, and eventually, she would have to learn an important lesson.

Now 22, Juliana is an English tutor for the Academic Support Center (ASC) at Passaic County

Community College. Her EN 101 professor, Amanda Kibler, recommended her for this position,

which she started in January 2022.

When Juliana first started working for the ASC, she did not feel qualified to be an English tutor. Today, Juliana is more confident in her abilities. She has learned so much while working for the center in the last two years. She is a hard worker who is always open to feedback and is not afraid to ask questions. However, looking back to her middle school days, she would have never imagined that she would have the confidence she has today.

Although Juliana struggled academically in the last years of elementary school, middle school presented a new set of challenges. In the 7th grade, Juliana started to take ESL classes with a small group of students. These classes helped her tremendously, and she quickly caught up with others in her grade.

Juliana excelled in all her school subjects, especially math, but this also made her the target of bullies. They would insult her and abuse her verbally. Juliana felt powerless and angry. She started to have negative thoughts leading her to not even wanting to attend school.

For Juliana, these were dark times, but she rose above it all. She relied on God to combat her

negative thoughts. With the help of her parents and her math teacher, Juliana realized that she did not have to hide her talents and achievements to please her peers and blend in.

Her parents told her, “Do not listen to them and avoid them. Focus on yourself.”

Juliana continued to work hard all the way through middle school and high school. As a result, she got good grades, received many awards, and was often on the honor roll because of her academic performance.

Unfortunately, bullying left a mark on Juliana’s school life. She struggled to make friends in

school because it was difficult to trust other students. She stated, “I would isolate myself, so

nobody would bother me. I preferred to be alone.” However, she eventually got to know a few

classmates better, and although she did not form a close relationship with them, she found some support during her school days.

Today, Juliana has a few close friends who have supported her along her journey. She graduated high school, earned an associate degree from Passaic County Community College in Business Administration, and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in accounting and financial planning at William Paterson University.

Juliana is proud of where she is in life now. What has she learned from her journey?

She stated, “I know who I am, and I know my character. I will not let anybody take away my

achievements. You can achieve anything if you put your mind to it.”

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