Polk State student from Haiti graduating with Criminal Justice degree is inspired to help other immigrants

Posted on by Polk Newsroom

When Rooloph Rene emigrated from Haiti in 2018, he had four years of law school in his home country under his belt but thought he may have to change career paths in the United States.

After seeing a billboard for Polk State College, which prompted him to meet with an advisor about enrolling, he realized that the knowledge he gained in Haiti provided him with a strong foundation for success in both Polk State’s Associate in Science in Criminal Justice Program and a potential career in helping others with the immigration process.

Rene will graduate on December 9, 2021, with Polk State’s 125th class.

“Pursuing my academic path at Polk State is an honor for me,” Rene said. “Polk State is turning dreams into reality for many Haitians living here in Polk County, and I want to thank all the advisors and professors for their help and support. I don’t think I could have done it without them.”

Rene moved to Polk three years ago to be with his wife, and they now have an 18-month-old daughter. He knew from day one that he wanted to continue his education and provide an increased quality of life for his family.

“Pursuing my academic path at Polk State is an honor for me. Polk State is turning dreams into reality for many Haitians living here in Polk County.”

“In a new country, everything is different, and I had to do something to get back on track to further my education, but I didn’t know how at first,” he explained. “I am grateful that I saw a billboard for Polk State. When I went to the College to talk to an advisor, he gave me a lot of great advice, from how I could use my studies in Haiti and how I could get my transcripts translated, to how I could apply for financial aid.”

He received a Pell Grant to help cover the cost of tuition like approximately 44 percent of Polk State students.

The opportunity to complete his studies online in the Criminal Justice Program has also benefitted Rene as he raises his young family and works up to 50 hours a week as a quality control technician at a medical technology company in Lakeland.

“It was a big decision to move to online classes, but it has really made it easier for me and has provided me with more time to study,” he said. “The professors are helpful and organized, which made it easier for me to complete my studies as well.”

Rene plans to continue his education in pursuit of a baccalaureate degree and possibly one day a Juris doctor. He is considering different careers in the criminal justice field and feels called to help others.

Rooloph Rene is pictured here at his graduation in Haiti. He will graduate from Polk State College on December 9, 2021, during Polk State’s 125th Commencement Ceremony.

“I want to help other Haitians navigate the immigration process,” he said.

He also encourages people to pursue higher education.

“Even if you are walking the graduation stage now, you can go further,” Rene said. “Education is really important, and I have seen firsthand how it can be really hard for people to live without education.”

“I would recommend Polk State to anyone,” he added. “The advisors and professors are here to help. I am very grateful and thank Polk State for everything.”