Stepping Outside Her Comfort Zone to Find Success

Published: February 21, 2023

College of Western Idaho (CWI) Business student, Viviane Akingeneye, has a strong desire to help those around her.

“I want to give back to my community,” Akingeneye said.

Akingeneye currently works in CWI’s Tutoring Services as an Embedded Tutor and an English Language Learning (ELL) Tutor where she works with students of various backgrounds, such as international and refugee students.

As an Embedded Tutor and ELL Tutor, Akingeneye attends class alongside students who are learning English as a second language or another language to provide them support. She also meets with students outside the class for help with homework, brainstorming processes, writing, and how to meet the academic requirements for their classes. She also works closely with instructors to provide the student with meaningful support.

“I want to help encourage students not to give up. Especially our ELL students who may not know about all the help and support around them at CWI.”

The difficulties international and refugee students experience when arriving in a new country along with a language barrier is something Akingeneye knows first-hand.

Originally from the Republic of Congo, Akingeneye and her family came to Idaho three years ago. While in her home country, she began college but was not able to finish because she had to leave and come to the United States. After living in Idaho for a year and always having the drive to continue her studies, Akingeneye enrolled at CWI for Spring 2021. In her first semester, she took four courses, but college was not what she remembered it to be like in the Republic of Congo — it was a lot more overwhelming.

“I was struggling and didn’t know where to ask for help. Because of the language barrier, the idea of going up to an instructor or classmate for help felt awkward.”

Fortunately, the opportunity to take part in the Bridge Program through CWI’s Adult Education program presented itself, and things began to look up. The program supports ELL students’ reading, writing, math, and language acquisition before entering the community college credit courses. Some students, like Akingeneye, take the Bridge Program concurrently with credit classes

“It helped me learn more about the College, academic requirements, writing an essay, and how to use materials, like email and Blackboard.”

While learning more about the College, Akingeneye discovered there was an opportunity for even more help in and outside the classroom through CWI’s Tutoring Services. She was paired with an Embedded Tutor in her Communication class.

“The tutor helped me with not only communicating in that class but with homework from any class I had that semester.”

Akingeneye’s first semester at CWI had some ups and downs, but after finding help and confidence in herself, she was able to pass her classes and meet new classmates.

“I’ve been able to open myself up to other students where we get together and have had group study sessions. My English and communication with others has gotten better. I am able to express myself more and not feel awkward like I used to.”

Proud of her accomplishments and grateful for the resources that got her there, Akingeneye felt compelled to give back and become a Bridge Program Peer Mentor, which ultimately lead her to work in Tutoring Services. Akingeneye's goal is to let other international and refugee students know they are not alone.

“English is my second language, and there can sometimes be a communication barrier with faculty and other students. If I kept myself closed off, not open to others, and did not reach out for help, I wouldn’t have the opportunities I have today. I just had my best semester so far.”

Akingeneye plans to graduate from CWI this semester and transfer to Boise State University in the fall, where she would like to major in Supply Chain Management and Minor in Information Technology. Post-grad, she would like to become a project manager where she can lead an entire operation from the beginning materials to the final product.

Additionally, Akingeneye would like to continue to help those just like her to learn and find the resources they need to succeed.

“I wasn't expecting to be a part of a community that helps others so soon in my life, but I'm glad I am here doing what I do.”

For those interested in learning more about the Bridge Program, contact Adult Education Supervisor, Trevi Hardy, at Those in need of more information about CWI’s Tutoring Services are asked to contact

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