December 2012 winner
Klleba Modeste, an immigrant from Trinidad and Tobago, moved to the United States hoping for a better life. Upon her arrival, she found America very surreal and challenging. "I came to the United States in 2001 at the age of 19 from a tropical country, and it was life-changing for me," said Klleba. "In Trinidad, no matter where you go, someone had a smile on their face, but everyone in the US is not that friendly,” she explained, and that was a major adjustment for her.
Within six months of arriving in the United States, she received her General Educational Development (GED) diploma. "I passed the GED exam the first time, which was a great accomplishment for me," said Klleba. After she completed her GED, Klleba attended Borough of Manhattan Community College, majoring in computer operations. During her final year at BMCC, she added another accomplishment to her list: becoming a mother.
Motherhood influenced Klleba to work harder in school because she wanted to set a good example for her two sons. They were her motivation to continue her education and apply to Brooklyn College in 2008. Klleba, a business management and finance major, knew early on the importance of developing her leadership skills and attended the “Business Leaders of Tomorrow” seminar. She was inspired by this seminar to minor in human resources and development.
Outside of her studies, Klleba is actively engaged with the campus community. She is a member of several student organizations, including NYPIRG, the Hispanic Society, Women's History Month and the V-day Committee. She also enjoys volunteering with the Civic Engagement Office as well as the college's Admissions Office.
Klleba expects to graduate from the college in spring 2013. After commencement, she will pursue a career in business management and finance and plans to start a college fund for her children as soon as possible.