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MEET OUR STUDENTS: Carlos Neves: Three Wishes on an Old Photograph



Born in Brazil, Carlos Neves, an elementary education major with a Portuguese minor, immigrated to the U.S. in 1985 at the age of 21. On a trip to Disneyworld he photographed a motto that has been the foundation of his life in America ever since. The sign read: “If we can dream it, we can do it.” Neves would later write three of his own aspirations on the back of the photograph: 1) to become an American citizen, 2) to become a teacher and 3) to become a father.   

Neves began building a life for himself in Newark, N.J., where he worked as a busboy from 1985 to 1987. He learned English by listening to language courses on cassettes and by translating his favorite music.

“I listened to everything,” he said, “Springsteen, Michael Jackson, the Bee Gees. It all helped build my vocabulary.” 

In 1988 Neves moved to Rhode Island and was employed as a waiter. Five years later, he enrolled at RIC. Financial difficulties arose and he was forced to put his dream of an education on hold. In 2009 he returned to RIC. By then, he had accomplished two of his dreams – he had become an American citizen in 1996, and, a year later, his son Aller was born. 

Along with studying and maintaining a family, Neves volunteers for the College Crusade of RI and was recently hired as a math coach at the Segue Institute for Learning in Central Falls.

At RIC, Neves has served as secretary of the RIC Middle School Association and was a recipient of the 2013 John A. and Mary V. Lima Scholarship in Portuguese Studies. He was also inducted into the RIC Sigma Chapter of the Phi Lambda Beta Portuguese Honor Society and has donated Brazilian artifacts to Special Collections in the Adams Library.

“Carlos has been an exemplary student who brings a clear message to younger students that success is the outcome of hard work, talent and motivation,” said Silvia Oliveira, assistant professor of Portuguese Studies.

In May 2014, upon graduation, Neves will check off his last dream – to become a teacher. “I haven’t put my hand on the trophy yet, but it’s closer than ever,” he said.