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ESL Institute celebrates completion ceremony

Campbellsville University’s English as a Second Language Institute held its completion ceremony. From left are: Front row–Dr. Raquel Cunha, Hanying Zhang, Valentina Persad, Fady Elabd, Maria Mejias, Johan Castro and Kassie Little. Back row–Vicky Campbell, Robert Parrish, Joshua Detherage, Dr. Eduardo Trindade and Dr. Joseph Hopkins. (Campbellsville University Photo by Chosalin Morales)

By Gerard Flanagan, news writer/photographer/social media, Office of University Communications

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – In 2007, Raquel Cunha made the nearly 4,000-mile trip from her native country of Brazil to Campbellsville, Ky. and became an ESL student as she adjusted to her new country.

Cunha, now the director of the English as a Second Language (ESL) Institute at Campbellsville University, told the four pinning candidates she was proud of each of them for reaching this point in their academic career during the recent ESL Completion Ceremony in The Gheens Recital Hall.

“You worked so hard to be here,” Cunha said. “Let’s celebrate!”

Students receiving pins during the ceremony were as follows: Johan Munoz Castro of Chile; Maria Laura Mejias and Valentina Persad, both of Venezuela; Fady Elabd of Egypt and Hanying Zhang of China.

Dr. Joseph Hopkins, president of Campbellsville University, echoed Cunha’s remarks and said he was proud of the ESL students for “their courage and all the rich culture and life they bring to our university and community.”

Hopkins reminded them Campbellsville University will always be “their university.”

Dr. Eduardo Trindade, director of Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language to Others (MATESOL) program and assistant professor of MATESOL, told the pinning candidates English is his second language as well and that they “deserve our praise.”

“It seems that not so long ago, some of them were struggling to communicate the most basic ideas in English, and today they stand here proud of making long speeches in class, finishing an academic APA paper in good grammar and using peer-reviewed sources to support their statements and arguments,” Trindade said.

Trindade urged the pinning candidates to take the opportunities God gives them each day, and he reminded them everything in life has a beginning and an end.

“Do not wait to enjoy life only when you accomplish your dreams,” Trindade said. “Enjoy the moment, commit yourself to the process and have a positive attitude when difficulties appear.”

Trindade said the pinning ceremony marked the culmination of a period of transformation.

“Just like caterpillars change into butterflies, your time in the ESLI was essential to acquiring your English language wings,” Trindade said. “May your language skills support you as you fly high and far to reach all your dreams in life.”

Trindade told the pinning candidates he and the entire ESLI staff prayed they would be “successful” and make positives changes in the world.

“In the not-so-distant future, I hope to hear that you promote peace, spread knowledge and make the world a better place,” Trindade said.

Trindade concluded by reading Isaiah 40:31, which says, “Those who hope in God will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow tired. They will walk and not be weak.”

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university that has enrolled up to 12,000 students yearly. The university offers over 100 programs of study including doctoral, masters, bachelors, associate and certification programs. The website for complete information is