Professor’s Words of Affirmation Help Manor College Student ‘See Something in Myself’

Sylvania Juste (Samuel Fels High School – Philadelphia) is studying Pre-Nursing at Manor College. She is a Presidential Ambassador and a member of the Women’s Soccer team.

Sylvania Juste

Sylvania Juste looked at the “56” written in red ink on the top of her chemistry test. Juste felt defeated, preparing herself to fail the entire Chemistry class.

After class ended, Juste spoke with her professor, Dr. Julie Senecoff. Juste explained how it was her first time learning chemistry, but she felt like she couldn’t do it. 

Senecoff looked back and replied, “Yes, you can. You brought your test back to talk to me and you are smart. You can do this.” 

Juste stuck with the class, worked with tutors and continued to speak with Dr. Senecoff. On the next test, she received a 72. The next, an 83 and on the final, a 100. On every test, Dr. Senecoff wrote a short message – good job, great work, excellent. Those small messages might seem like nothing, but it was the bit of encouragement Juste needed. 

“Every test I took, she always wrote something and it made me feel like I’m not in this alone,” Juste said. “It was nice to have someone see something in me that I didn’t see in myself. I never heard that from teachers before coming to Manor.” 

*** 

Juste grew up in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. Juste was raised by a single mother until 2009, when her mother immigrated to the United States. For the next seven years, her brother, Meocilius, became the head of the family. 

Meocilius took his role as head of the family seriously. He made Juste and her siblings complete their lessons at night before instilling a 6:30 p.m. curfew. Juste only missed class when she was sick. 

“He was tough, but he was there for us,” Juste said. “If it wasn’t for him and my family, I wouldn’t be here.” 

Juste and her siblings immigrated to America in 2016, settling in Northeast Philadelphia. After attending Samuel Fels High School, Juste sought out to become an art teacher. She had a passion for sketching and thought it could be her career. In 2021, she lost that desire after seeing a teacher disrespected by his students. 

That same year, Juste’s sister gave birth to a son. As the birthing process began, Juste wanted to be in the room. In that time, she saw everything. She was among the first to see the baby, hear his cry and even cut the umbilical cord. That’s when she realized her dream of becoming a midwife. 

“Oh my God, I thought that would be a dream,” Juste said. “When the baby came out, I was so happy, as if it was my own. I wanted to be there to help bring that joy to others.” 

***

Juste admits that it wasn’t her decision to come to Manor College. She looked at different schools and her sister, who attended Manor in 2021, convinced her to take a tour. 

“I didn’t want to go to the same school that she was going to,” Juste laughed. “My sister told me teachers at Manor had a high standard. When I came here, it was perfect.” 

She found teachers who, like Dr. Senecoff, went out of their way to help students. 

“I remember being at another college and feeling really stressed out,” Juste said. “I had to take three exams in one day because I couldn’t find time with one of the professors. That doesn’t happen at Manor.” 

Juste found a welcoming environment during her time at Manor. She’s often found speaking Haitian-Creole to a group of friends around campus. English is Juste’s third language, with French being the second. She often receives help from Writing and Tutoring Services Coordinator, Elinore Leonards with her papers.

“Manor made me who I am today because they always made me feel like I am welcomed,” Juste said. “Everybody knows if you need help, there is always someone here to help you.” 

Juste recommends Manor College to students because of the opportunities it affords students. 

“Manor gives you an opportunity to do your best so that everyone can see you,” Juste said. “Manor College is not easy, but you are in control about how seriously you take your classes or not. You control your effort. You control your time management. As long as you bring your effort, the professors try to make it work for you.”

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