Stories of Excellence–Nelson Acevedo

Nelson Acevedo is no stranger to challenges and hard work. His day starts at 4:30 every morning. He grabs a quick breakfast and works on his computer growing the custom doll and handmade goods business he shares with his wife until around 7 a.m. He then departs for his full-time job as an HVAC technician. He comes home at 4 p.m. and has a short time to shower and eat before he is out the door again for his night classes. Returning home between 8-9 p.m., he then starts on his course work. At 47 years old, Nelson shows no signs of slowing down.


Acevedo, his wife, and their three children are originally from Columbia. Due to the increasing political violence and lack of freedoms in Columbia, they made the difficult decision to seek refuge in the United States in 2006. They left behind a life of many accomplishments in Columbia. Both Acevedo and his wife had attended universities, owned their own home and had stable careers––Acevedo as a business owner and his wife as a nurse.


Starting over in the United States was not easy. Neither Acevedo nor anyone in his family spoke English when they first settled in Florida. Having left behind their careers, Acevedo began working in construction and his wife cleaned houses. They missed their families, the culture, the food and their community. Even with all the difficulties, though, they never regretted making the decision to move.


While life in Florida was comfortable, Acevedo and his wife decided that it was time for a change. “We took a map and began looking for a new home,” he shared. “I saw one name on the map – Mooresville – and I liked that city just for the name itself. We put all of our things in the car and drove north. Once we got here, we liked the beauty of Mooresville and Lake Norman instantly.” The Acevedo family has been in Iredell County since.  


New home established, Acevedo turned his attention to his education. He knew he would have to retake courses he had previously completed in Columbia, but he did not anticipate continuing his education being such a difficult endeavor. “Since I arrived in the United States, I had tried to resume my studies, but many things were delaying the beginning,” Acevedo noted. “Among them, the economic part, bringing the necessary documents from Colombia, and the fact that to date my level of English is at 70%.” He first attempted to resume his education in Florida but there were too many barriers. After living in Iredell County for a while, Nelson decided to start all over again at Mitchell. Nelson noted that the process of coming back to school was easy at Mitchell thanks to the help and support of staff.


One crucial piece that made it possible for Acevedo to start his education over was the scholarship support he received. “We are very grateful for the scholarship,” he said. “It helps us to lighten our burdens.” He also appreciates the support of Student Services and his instructors. He is currently pursuing degrees in both Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Technology and Information Technology. He has enjoyed his HVAC classes with Instructor Powell. He has also enjoyed being back on campus for classes as it has helped keep him focused. Even with the language barrier, Acevedo has excelled at Mitchell maintaining a 3.85 GPA.


Having already accomplished much in the United States including obtaining full citizenship last year, Acevedo has big plans for the future. After he graduates, he is considering going to UNC Charlotte to continue his education. He plans to open his own company either in the HVAC field, the IT field or perhaps both. He plans to continue to grow his family’s custom doll business as well. In the next ten years, he hopes to have more of his family living here with them and working with them to grow their businesses and share in the success.


The advice Acevedo has for other students is to work hard and to give back when you can. Acevedo plans to pay it forward for all the help he has received at Mitchell. “When my application development company is consolidated as a strong company,” he shared. “I will not forget that some unknown person offered their support, and I hope to repeat their example.”


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