Elizabeth’s Story: A Love Of Learning, Passed Down Through Three Generations

Today, we share the story of Pearson employee Elizabeth Goueti, the daughter of Haitian parents who fled their home for the United States in the 1980s.


Always Learning

“If your nose is not in a book, it’s a problem.”

“For my whole life, that’s been my father’s mantra,” says Elizabeth Goueti.

“Education is everything to him.”

Elizabeth says that she and her sister have done their best academically to make their father proud.

“I’m a lawyer and Patricia has her Master’s degree.”

Elizabeth says it makes sense that they both work for Pearson.

“It’s a company that’s as passionate about the power of education as our father is.”


“It’s a company that’s as passionate about the power of education as our father is.”


Risking Everything For Education

Elizabeth’s parents grew up in Haiti in the 1960s and 1970s.

At the time, Elizabeth says, there were no public schools in the country—if you wanted a formal education, you had to pay for it.

Elizabeth’s grandfather, Rollin, was involved in local politics.

“He used his connections to get my father enrolled in a school,” she says.

“But it was four hours from their home, and very expensive.”

This meant that as a very young boy, her father moved away from his family to live with strangers nearer to the school.

“If tuition fees were late, he was kicked out—onto the streets—until his family could scrounge up the money for the next semester,” Elizabeth says.

“His struggles made him strong.”

“Those memories are so much of the reason why he values education as much as he does.”

Leaving Home Behind

Elizabeth says her father finished high school at the top of his class, but still faced challenges ahead.

He graduated during a tumultuous time in Haiti.

The then-president, Jean-Claude Duvalier, nicknamed “Baby Doc,” assumed power at just 19, making him the world’s youngest leader.

Elizabeth says he largely neglected his presidential duties, while severe poverty struck the people of Haiti.

In the fall of 1980, Elizabeth’s father and 132 other Haitian men and women boarded a “rickety, overcrowded boat” bound for the United States.


In the fall of 1980, Elizabeth’s father and 132 other Haitian men and women
boarded a “rickety, overcrowded boat” bound for the United States.


“After two weeks of barely surviving on uncooked rice and very little water,” Elizabeth says, “they made it to Miami.”

“It was an incredibly difficult journey,” she says, “but my father doesn’t talk about it that way.”

“He tells my sister and me that he was hopeful…of living a successful life in America with the education his family risked so much for.”

Mom Making the Same Journey

A year later, when she was just 18, Elizabeth’s mother made the same difficult journey from Haiti to Miami.

Both her parents were detained upon arrival.

After their release (“a few weeks later for my mom, and several months later for dad”), they found work in Miami, where they met and fell in love.

The next year, they started a family—Elizabeth came first, and then her sister.

Making the Most of What They Had

“My parents’ life in Miami was hard—they had fled their home for a new country, they didn’t speak English well, and they had two young children to raise,” Elizabeth says.


“My parents’ life in Miami was hard—they had fled their home for a new country,
they didn’t speak English well, and they had two young children to raise.”


She describes the neighborhood she grew up in as “dodgy.”

Despite the daily challenges, Elizabeth remembers her father making education a priority for her and her sister.

“Every Saturday, he took us to the public library,” Elizabeth remembers.

“We would rent as many books as we were allowed. We just read and learned, and read and learned.”

Keeping Her Parents’ Legacy Alive

Today, Elizabeth is still in south Florida, where her parents came as refugees nearly 40 years ago.

She is now a parent. She and her husband have a son.

It’s very important to them, Elizabeth says, that he, too, grows up with a love of learning—and an appreciation for what his family went through to get an education.

“I tell Nolan about the hardship his grandparents experienced in Haiti.”

“It’s difficult for him to understand because he’s only three,” Elizabeth says. (He calls them “Gamma” and “Gandpa”).

Elizabeth says she hopes to continue having candid conversations with Nolan as he grows older.

“I will do my best to teach him everything my father taught me—about the importance of perseverance, dedication, and fighting through whatever challenges you are faced with to give your children the best opportunities possible.”


Since 2015, Pearson has partnered with Save the Children UK in the ‘Every Child Learning’ partnership to increase educational opportunities for Syrian refugees and vulnerable children in Jordan.

Now, in 2017, they are extending their work to launch a new education project in Jordan, in partnership with the Jordanian Ministry of Education, to help Syrian refugees, and local children living in host communities, to improve their academic results, to build resilience and to help make their schools safer.

This project consists of a fun and engaging math learning app, “Space Hero”, developed by Pearson, that will be supported by a broader Save the Children led program focusing on teacher training, enhancing school-community systems, and psychosocial support.