Paola Arias was born and raised in the state of Cojedes in Venezuela. “It’s a state with lots of nature, trees, and cows,” says Paola. As an ambitious and self-motivated person, Paola worked hard to pursue her undergraduate studies in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. When she was accepted into the university, she pursued three major concentrations: international trade, international business and administration, and public accounting. Unfortunately, she didn’t get to complete her degrees. The Venezuelan government closed the university and began to persecute many students, including Paola. She moved back to Cojedes to live a normal life, but the threats escalated. “I literally left running,” says Paola, “When I reached Mexico, I was sleeping in the streets. But I found work. Mexico, for me, was an oasis in the middle of the desert. Many people opened the doors for me, and my objective was to get to the United States. It took me about five months.”  

Paola celebrated her 22nd birthday in Chicago. She found refuge and safety. Paola applied for and received asylum and a work permit. She attended a job fair that specifically provided opportunities for new arrivals, and connected with National Able Network. “In Venezuela, I worked wherever I could…from the beauty industry to the restaurant industry,” says Paola, “But, here it was so different. Resumes aren’t the same, and I was super lost when it came to the hiring process. National Able Network helped me very much!”  

As part of the Community Crew that is specialized in assisting new arrivals, Paola is making a huge impact in connecting people with the right resources. “The American Job Center [in Pilsen] provides resume help and connections to GED preparation, English classes, and much more,” says Paola, “I always wanted to study languages, but in Venezuela those concentrations are only available privately. So, I taught myself English and Portuguese. But here there are so many resources to be able to work, there are programs, job fairs, and more.” The right to have access to these resources is immensely valuable in providing a support system and refreshed hope. Paola remains as ambitious as ever, and she is currently pursuing her GED so that she can continue with her undergraduate studies in the United States. 

“I’m very excited about my future, says Paola, “Thanks to National Able [Network] I can achieve what I’m looking for…and for the support they’ve given me and all new arrivals, not just to learn English, but to get stability, which is most important for us new arrivals in this country.”