Houghton College offers free 2-year program for refugee and immigrant students in Buffalo

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Fifty five students enrolled in Houghton College’s program in Buffalo’s west side all have something in common.

“English is not my first language it’s not even my second language I speak more than 4 languages,” said Felix Madgi, student.

Most of these students like Felix come from different countries all over the world.

“I’m from Thailand and I come here like 2007 but went to another state first,” said Joanna Lay, student.

Students in the 2-year program are working towards an Associate of Arts degree. Tuition is 11 thousand dollars a year, but they’re able to attend at no cost.

“We took the average Pell grant and TAP grant that our students get and simply built all of our costs and budgets based on that,” said Cameron Airhart, Dean of Houghton College Buffalo.

Houghton College rented out space at the first Presbyterian Church in Buffalo for the program. Immigrant and refugee students each get a free bus pass, text books, and a laptop.

“It’s general education studies with workplace readiness emphasis, it allows them to go on to a bachelor’s program at an area college or Houghton College in Allegany county, or go right into the workforce,” said Airhart.

Students say the emphasis on ESL, tutoring and small classrooms has helped make them successful in the program.

“In this program they really help me you know staying after class we have tutoring after this class,” said Madgi.

“I feel like it’s really like my family we are welcome in here,” said Lay.

Houghton College is also partnering with Buffalo State College to make sure that students can easily transfer there for their bachelor’s degree if they wish to do so.

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