WCSU Helps Multilingual Students Navigate the College Experience

Like many Danbury residents, 22-year-old Catherine Costa lives in a bilingual home that bridges her family’s roots in Portugal with their current residence in Connecticut.

By Sherri Hill

Like many Danbury residents, 22-year-old Catherine Costa lives in a bilingual home that bridges her family’s roots in Portugal with their current residence in Connecticut. Her family has achieved a great deal of success here — her mother, who immigrated in 1994, manages two Union Savings Bank branches in Danbury, and her father, who was born in the United States, is a manager at Adam Equipment. Catherine is the latest member of the family to achieve success by being named a 2022 Henry Barnard Distinguished Student by the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities Foundation.

Catherine attended Danbury High School, and due to her interest in health care, she took a CNA class offered at DHS that included clinical hours at Danbury Hospital. She enjoyed it so much that she decided to attend college to become a nurse.

“I considered several nursing schools, and I knew about the strong reputation of WCSU’s Nursing program,” Catherine said. “I looked at Sacred Heart and Quinnipiac in addition to Western Connecticut State University. Ultimately, WCSU was more cost-effective and going there enabled me to stay at home with my family in the community that I love. There are so many diverse cultures in Danbury, and by extension, at WCSU. Staying here to attend college enabled me to remain involved in church and community organizations, and to continue appreciating the diversity Danbury has to offer, like eating at Minas Carnes after class with my friends.”

Because of her success at DHS, Catherine received a Kathwari Honors Program scholarship to study at WCSU. On May 15, she graduated Summa Cum Laude, having attained the Dean’s list every semester, with a GPA of 3.95.

While maintaining academic excellence in the rigorous Nursing program, Catherine was a member of the WestConn Field Hockey Team and was named a National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division III Scholar of Distinction and member of the National Academic Squad. She received multiple Sons of Portugal Scholarships and was a member of the NCAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

Catherine has worked as a Student Nurse Associate/Patient Care Technician in the float pool at Danbury Hospital since 2019. Committed to her future profession, she was a student member of the Emergency Nurses Association and the National Student Nurses Association, and was inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, Kappa Alpha Chapter, in April 2021. She was also president of the WCSU Student Nurses Association.

Because she stayed in Danbury, Catherine was able to serve as a volunteer COVID-19 vaccinator for the Department of Health during the height of the pandemic, as an organist at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, and as a flutist for the Sons of Portugal Band.

“As a first-generation college student at WCSU, there were challenges, but I never felt like I wasn’t being helped,” Catherine said. “Everyone from the Admissions Office to the library and LASO, the Latin American Student Organization, have staff and resources to help students and their families who speak multiple languages navigate the college experience. My community, WCSU, and my parents all supported me, and I am grateful for the opportunity and wouldn’t change a thing.”

Catherine will start her new job as an Emergency Department nurse at Bridgeport Hospital in July, once she passes her NCLEX licensing exam.

For more information on how to enroll at the Western Connecticut State University, please visit www.wcsu.edu/admissions, or contact the WCSU Admissions Office at (203) 837-9000, or admissions@wcsu.edu.