Francisco Briceno

"This is an honor for me. I have received so many gifts from you that have already changed not just mine but my whole family's lives with all of the opportunities that you provide.”

Francisco Briceno immigrated to the United States with his family in 2018 from Venezuela after a successful, but dangerous career. Born into a highly educated family, the Briceno’s education combined has achieved general and master’s degrees, ranging from university professors to attorneys and lawyers.

Following in his parent’s footsteps, Francisco became a university professor and worked as a professional advisor. He was also an entrepreneur, running different companies, one of which was a successful consulting firm. Through Briceno’s consulting company, he advised seven of the eleven business chambers in the government. (Much like our Chamber of Commerce) Francisco’s role helped him achieve national recognition as a man who openly opposed the communist government, by advising local politicians running against Hugo Chavez’s political party. Francisco saw great success and made huge strides in the country. Because of this success, Briceno’s homeland became unsafe, stating, “I received a call from the governor….and he said, “you need to leave because they want to kill you."”. He left with his family and came to Florida under political asylum, where he received help from Catholic Charities in Florida. The family later found themselves in Oklahoma, and from there began searching for a program to teach them English. This is where their journey with Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma began. Francisco believes that being able to learn the language is essential to bridge the gap between cultures, stating, “You need to interact. That was my conclusion. If you want to do the crossover from your last life to the new one, you cannot be just in the four walls of your cultural history. You need to be able to share a language, of course, but you need to share life. you need to share history.”

Catholic Charities is proud to be able to provide this opportunity to share culture through the ESL program, and because of the positive experience, the Briceno family decided to enroll in the GED classes as well. Although Francisco and his family were highly educated in Venezuela, those credentials were not recognized in the United States. According to Francisco, it is easier, cheaper, and faster to re-earn a new degree in the American system, than to try and receive recognition for previous degrees. This led the family to enroll in the GED program from which they recently graduated.

Since then, Francisco has been hired as the assistant manager for our Adult Education program. Francisco’s personal goal while working here at Catholic Charities, as well as in his own life, is to educate. He says, “I am a very strong believer that education is the foundation to change your life. If you educate people, if you provide to people criteria, if you open their mind, they already have enough tools to change their life."