Alonso

Alonso Ma

Alonso is a recent immigrant with ESL needs who wants to start his own business to support his family. He has prior experience running small companies in Asia.

  • Primary Goal: Learn the skills needed to start a business
  • Main Challenges: New to the US, English language, and the college experience.
  • Occupation: None
  • Age: 36

I have experience running businesses in other countries, but I don’t know how to get started here in the U.S.


Alonso and his family moved to the United States six month ago and have been living off their savings while they try to learn English and get situated. Alonso is looking for a way to learn the rules so he can start a business with his savings. He heard about low-cost community college programs but doesn’t know how to start the process.

He makes a visit to the local community college to learn more. He finds the Welcome Center at the college and does his best to communicate with the staff. His understanding is that he has to complete an application and pay fees that seem a lot higher than he had expected for a community college. They also show him how to use the online catalog to learn about the programs offered at the college.

Alonso loses most of his hope for getting training at the local college. He spends some time that night looking at the college catalog online but is not sure what he should be looking at. He finds some programs for business, but there are many options, each with a long list of classes grouped by category. Even though Alonso has degrees in business from his country, the information in the catalog is confusing to him. He eventually gives up on the idea of getting training at the local college and tries to learn more from other people he has met who speak his native language.