Johnny BaptisteJohnny Baptiste came from Haiti to Michigan seeking a better life for himself and his family. But doing so meant overcoming significant barriers to success, finding a quality work opportunity and adapting to life in the U.S. 

Thanks to a referral from Michigan’s PATH program, Johnny began by visiting West Michigan Works!’ Muskegon Service Center. Here he connected with Career Coach Lauren Dykman, who assisted Johnny with his language and transportation barriers and helped him find solutions. She also directed him to community resources such as food and clothing pantries. 

“My experience with Johnny was very enjoyable,” Lauren shared. “He was a pleasure to work with because he was so eager and motivated to learn and succeed.” 

One of Johnny’s first goals was to learn English as quickly as possible. Thanks to Lauren’s help, he had access to the Rosetta Stone language learning software and attended multiple English as a Second Language (ESL) courses per week at READ Muskegon. 

“READ Muskegon was a key partner in assisting Johnny with his relocation,” Lauren said. “He put a lot of effort into learning English; He can now fluently speak it without translation and scored very well on his tests.” 

Johnny also addressed his transportation barrier head-on by familiarizing himself with local bus routes and by taking driving lessons. With additional help from the Refugee Assistance program, he was able to pass his road test and obtain a Michigan driver’s license. 

Finally, Johnny received work authorization and found a full-time position at Epi Breads in Muskegon. Now with a license, a job and a strong understanding of English, Johnny has begun to establish a new life for himself and his family in Michigan.  

Lauren was amazed at Johnny’s tenacity and determination throughout each step of his journey. “He is always looking for ways to improve his situation,” she said. “Johnny is now working full-time and is saving for a vehicle. He is a prime example of a true success story.” 

Johnny continues to work to expand his opportunities and grow his career and has enrolled in night classes at Muskegon Community College to earn a Certificate in Industrial Electricity, with the option to continue to earn an associate degree in Electronics Engineering Technology. 

“I am just trying my best to create a better life for my family,” Johnny said.