We Are Henry Street

By Henry Street Settlement

Pictured, first row from left: Becker Rosales, Maedhbh McCullugh, Ramon Vargas, Shauna Ramadhin. Second row: Mamoun Shaukat, Kettely Germain, Venera Ziyatdinova, Mei Juan Zhao 

With all the controversy surrounding immigration these days, we are featuring some immigrant success stories. We didn’t have to search far and wide – all of the individuals profiled are Henry Street employees! We hope you enjoy their stories as much as we enjoy working with them.

Becker Rosales – Nicaragua
Becker, 25, immigrated to the United States when he was eight years old, joining his mother who had settled in Florida seven years earlier. The adjustment wasn’t easy: he didn’t know a word of English, and barely knew his mother, having been raised by relatives back home. He excelled in school and, while still a student at the University of Florida, Becker volunteered with international nonprofits focused on education. He spent a year at AmeriCorps after earning his BA degree before joining Henry Street Settlement in 2015 as the Volunteer Program Associate.

Maedhbh McCullugh – Ireland
Maedhbh, the youngest of ten children raised in County Cavan, Ireland, immigrated to the United States for love. After enduring years of a long distance relationship with her now-husband (they met in Dublin, when his theater company, NTUSA, performed as part of the Dublin Fringe Festival, where Maedhbh was Programme Manager), she moved here permanently in 2008. Maedhbh earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Pontifical University and National University of Ireland, Maynooth, outside of Dublin, and today she is managing director of the Abrons Arts Center and the mother of a five-year-old son.

Ramon Vargas – Dominican Republic
Ramon remembers the exact day he moved to New York: February 17, 1989. That’s the day he left college in the Dominican Republic to reunite with his wife and son who had moved here four years earlier with her extended family. Today, the couple has three children – all involved in the arts – and Ramon is now facilities manager at Henry Street, having started as a porter in 1990 (the 4 a.m. to noon shift) and worked his way up. He appreciates the opportunity to learn a new language, new culture and so much about the buildings he is charged with maintaining. And he is especially grateful that he is able to support his mother to provide her with a better life

Shauna Ramadhin – Guyana
Shauna’s family wasn’t planning to immigrate to the United States. But when a family friend secretly entered their names in a lottery, and they were chosen, the family decided to seek better opportunities in New York. Shauna was just ten years old and, coming from a hot and sunny country, was shocked at the cold March weather when they landed at JFK. Raised in Queens, Shauna earned her bachelor’s degree in business at St. John’s University, and her masters in human resources/labor relations at the New York Institute of Technology. She is grateful for the increased opportunities available here; job variety is more limited in her native country, which gained independence from Great Britain just 50 years ago. Shauna has been Henry Street’s Human Resources Manager since 2013.

Mamoun Shaukat – Pakistan
Mamoun moved to the United States with his family, who came seeking a better life and living standard, when he was just 13 years old. He learned English in the Brooklyn public schools, and earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Baruch College. He was hired as an accountant at Henry Street in 2016, following an internship he completed at the Settlement. He hopes to get an MBA, and become a certified public accountant.

Kettely Germain – Haiti
Kettely was a reluctant immigrant, and arrived in 1983 to join her family after most of them settled in the United States. She has worked in the payroll department since 2004, but her first love (besides her daughter, now a social worker) is soccer. The former Haiti Women’s National Team player launched a female junior soccer team, the Cambria Heights Panthers and, for the past 19 years, has served as a mentor to hundreds of young girls, encouraging them to pursue college and follow their dreams. The team, she says, is like the United Nations, with players from Columbia, Africa, Venezuela and more. They’ve learned from her, she says, but she’s learned much more from them.

Venera Ziyatdinova – Uzbekistan
October 12, 2008 is a day that Venera will never forget. It’s when she moved to New York City after winning a green card lottery. She knew just one person in New York, but in the intervening years and, armed with a degree in business administration found a job as a grants accountant at Henry Street. While she misses her family, she enjoys the more comfortable quality of life here – year-round hot water, reliable electricity and the availability of consumer goods. She also grateful for traffic lights and safer drivers, and she hopes to bring her parents here, if just for a short visit.

Mei Juan Zhao – China
In 2008, Mei Juan came to New York from China with her mother, brother and son. They were looking for a better life, and a good education for her son. Shortly after arriving, she began working at Henry Street’s Meals on Wheels program, delivering food to homebound in Manhattan. She loves her job, and says that the clients are very nice and appreciative. And her son, who was educated in the United States, now works in Washington, D.C., in information technology.