Speaking The Language of Success

Educational entrepreneur Carmen Gomide has found success in helping
foreign students learn English, along the way fostering cultural tolerance

By Wendy Lemlin

In 1979, when Carmen Gomide was 23 years old, she came to California from her home in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to study English
at UCLA. “The courses were very expensive, and it gave me
the idea to someday open a school where students could affordably learn English from native speakers, while also receiving an excellent education,” Gomide remembers.

She returned to Brazil, and in 1987 her position with Xerox Corporation moved her back to the U.S., where her entrepreneurial spirit kicked in. She then launched her own company, exporting Xerox equipment to Brazil. Eventually,
as a single mother on her own with two very small children, Gomide finally realized her dream when she opened the International Academy of English in downtown San Diego
in 1999.

In 2005, Gomide purchased the small, non-accredited Southern States University in Fashion Valley and her dream expanded. Today, through years of focus and overcoming a myriad of challenges, both schools are fully accredited, and at any one time serve about 1500 students from all over the world on
seven campuses.

The International Academy of English, with campuses in San Diego and Las Vegas, provides non-native speakers with
quality English language instruction. Southern States University, located on campuses in La Jolla, Pacific Beach, Fashion
Valley and Newport Beach, offers not only English language courses, but also accredited undergraduate and graduate degrees in Information Technology (IT) and Business Administration, and certificate programs in various IT and business and marketing disciplines.

Down-to-earth, warm and friendly, Carmen Gomide doesn’t measure her success based on material things. “My greatest joy,” she beams, “comes from being able to interact with students from all over the globe, with diverse religions,
lifestyles and cultural backgrounds. This has resulted in
giving my children, who are now 24 and 25, as well as myself,
a high sense of tolerance and understanding.”

She sees this attitude of tolerance in her students as well. She explains, “I love walking into a class, or even a nearby coffee shop, and witnessing young adults from, say, Saudi Arabia, Japan, India, Brazil and Russia, all engaged in lively conversation, speaking the universal language of friendship. It’s beautiful to see how they assimilate into each other’s cultures.”

As a foreigner, who herself found success in the U.S. through much hard work and determination, she welcomes the opportunity to be an advocate of the American Dream. She proclaims, “I am so proud to positively impact the lives of the students who come here and to show them how great life in this country is. They leave here with a greater appreciation of what this nation is, and bring it back to their respective countries, further spreading tolerance, goodwill and, hopefully, peace.”

To Gomide, all of this translates into the ultimate success. Ρ

“My greatest joy comes from being able to interact with students from all over the globe, with diverse religions, lifestyles and cultural backgrounds. “