Taci, Family Move One Step Closer to Achieving Their American Dream
The reasons Eneida Taci and her husband, Misha, chose to immigrate from Albania to the United States nine years ago have been cited for nearly as long as the nation has existed. They sought a better life with more security for themselves and their children.
They are beginning to see their American dream come true.
Eneida Taci finished the dental hygiene program at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park in July and has embarked on a search for a position that best suits her family. She doesn’t have a job yet, but she will soon. Dental hygienists are in high demand and even recent graduates are earning signing bonuses.
“When I came here, I said I’m going to do something,” said Taci, who worked with a dentist in her home country. “I came with a plan in my mind. I wouldn’t have left Albania to come to America to come and do nothing.
“I came for my kids more because I wanted a better future for them, but first I have to help them. This was for them. I did this for them.”
The Albanian economy saw a steady decline after the turn of the century, and 10 years into the millennium, Eneida and Misha Taci believed it would take a move to a new country to find stability. They set their sights on the United States and both applied for the Diversity Immigrant Visa program, hoping they could make a fresh start.
Better known as the “Green Card Lottery,” the program annually allows 55,000 immigrants primarily from underrepresented ethnic groups to come to the United States. The chances of getting a visa waver between extremely difficult and impossible.
In 2012, the year the Tacis immigrated, a little more than three million Europeans applied for the lottery. In all, including dependents, only about 33,000 got their green cards or roughly one percent of applicants.
Misha Taci was one of the lucky ones and he was allowed to bring his wife. However, when it was time to leave Albania, she was seven-months pregnant with twins and the couple had to decide what was in the growing family’s best interest.
Despite the medical concerns, they chose to make the trip together. Their twin boys, Nicholas and Paris, were born in Michigan, where the family first settled. Two years later, they moved to St. Louis to be near relatives, and STLCC-Forest Park became an integral part of the family’s journey.
Both Eneida and Misha, who had English classes in Albania but still struggled with the language, took ESL classes at Forest Park. When it came time for them to further their education, the College was an obvious choice.
“It’s very important because it’s helping me build my future, my family’s future here,” Eneida said. “When I asked where to go, there were a couple of programs and other schools, but the feedback I got was that the Forest Park program was the best.”
The dental hygiene program is a rigorous degree program, but Eneida and her class also had to deal with the impact of the pandemic. A full rotation of clinical hours was lost because they couldn’t see patients after the dental clinic was forced to shut for six months before reopening in September. The students were forced to double up on hours this summer, taking what is normally a 16-week spring clinic course in nine weeks.
The class was supposed to finish in May, but students had to wait until July to complete it. Their degrees will be conferred in August, and then the Missouri Board of Dentistry will process their licensure applications. Once students receive their dental hygiene licenses, they can start working.
“Eneida and her classmates’ perseverance got them to the finish line,” said Kim Polk, dental hygiene program director. “There were many delays and disappointments along the way. However, they persevered to complete the program successfully and have graduation pending in August.
“I’m incredibly proud of the drive they displayed to reach this point.”
Eneida said she overcame the challenges largely because of her family’s support. Her parents helped with the twins and Misha worked to make money so Eneida could focus on studies. Now that Eneida is entering the workforce, Misha can begin the radiologic technology program at STLCC-Forest Park as soon as it fits into the family’s schedule.
And it will put the Tacis one step closer to achieving their American dream.