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Neena Perez, 38, Graduates From Norwalk Community College After Hardships

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Norwalk Community College - Norwalk, CT (file / credit: Norwalk Community College)

Norwalk Community College – Norwalk, CT (file / credit: Norwalk Community College)

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NORWALK, CT (WCBS 880) - Neena Perez escaped the nightmare of her youth in Stamford by watching TV cooking shows featuring Julia Child.

WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau With The Emotional Story

She was abused as a child and became a teenage mother (pregnant at age 15) who barely made it through high school.

She never dreamed she would one day graduate from college and, armed with a sheepskin, be propelled into the world of restaurant and food service management.

“I’ve always wanted to be a chef since I was a little girl. I remember standing in front of the TV and watching Julia Child and wanting to do what she was doing,” she says.

Perez says her life did a 180 the minute she walked through the doors of Norwalk Community College.

“It was like Dorothy and ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ That’s what it was like. I opened the door and saw color,” Perez told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau. “I don’t know how I did it, but I did it, you know, and I’ve maintained a 3.9 GPA and I put 125 percent into everything that I do.”

At Norwalk Community College, Neena proudly accepts the honor of class speaker.

She has juggled class studies and final exams with the startup of her own business.

“I can’t believe it. I mean I walked into these doors in 2007 a desperate woman and I’m leaving the class speaker. Like, who does that? Who does that,” she said. “I’m shooting for the stars! I’m going for it!”

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