Students' Success Stories 2017-18
We all enjoy success stories. They are positive messages about overcoming obstacles, working hard for the reward, and finding satisfaction in completing challenges. Read about the students who have obtained citizenship, those who escaped war torn countries and now have assimilated into American society and absorbed our culture, and those who finally read a bedtime story to a young child or grandchild. That last achievement has a special significance for a Basic Literacy student after a lifetime of frustration and low self-esteem. Here at Literacy Volunteers of America we like to celebrate all those positive events in our students’ lives. Sometimes we celebrate with hugs and treats, but most often, we share these achievements with others through this page on our website. That way all of our LVA community can share in the celebration of their success!
When LVA student Gloria Orjuela and her young family first left their native Colombia in 2010, their first stop in North America was Canada. After a long immigration process, Quebec became their new home.
“We wanted to have a better life in Canada,” Gloria said. “My husband was traveling too much for his job in Colombia. We wanted to raise our children together and be a close family.”
Gloria left an 11-year career as a budget coordinator for one of the biggest telecom companies in Bogota, Colombia’s capital city and chose not to seek employment upon her arrival to Canada. Instead she became the Chief Financial Officer for her family and overseer of their relocation.
While her husband worked as an electrical engineer, Gloria stayed at home with her newborn baby girl and her school-aged daughter attended elementary school. Gloria used the time her baby was napping as an opportunity to study English. “I did not want to go to school during the day because of my baby,” Gloria said. The family eventually relocated to Calgary, in the Canadian province of Alberta. “Calgary has a lot of government funded programs that help immigrants to improve their English skills and also offer employment training,” Gloria said.
By the time her infant daughter was 11 months old, Gloria’s language skills were so proficient that she was able to accept a position as an assistant teacher where her daughter attended daycare. At night, Gloria attended school.
Due to lots of hard work and efficient scheduling, Gloria continued her English studies and graduated from a job-training program. Within six months, she was gainfully employed as an accountant. Her new position dovetailed with her previous education in Bogota where she earned her bachelor’s degree and specialized in financial management.
When not working, Gloria volunteered at Making Changes, an organization designed to help immigrant women to achieve their goal of entering the workforce in Canada. “This was a wonderful opportunity to learn about other people’s cultural backgrounds,” Gloria said.
Once again, keeping the family together due to her husband’s job, Gloria stayed behind in Canada with her children so they could finish out the school year before they joined her husband in the United States. As the family’s relocation specialist, she carefully researched schools and a nice place to raise a family. Lucky for LVA, Gloria chose Bloomfield.
Gloria came to LVA in 2016. Of course, she found out about LVA while doing research on literacy programs and networking groups while visiting a local library. Gloria works at least 16 hours per month with her LVA tutors, is a member of the English/Spanish Language Exchange, and volunteers in the office for seven hours per week. “In Canada and the United States you can work as a volunteer and give back to the community,” she said. “I got good support and I give back by working as a volunteer. I believe working as a volunteer is a good opportunity to connect with the community.”
Gloria and her family have transitioned successfully into life in Essex County. “My husband is happy here, my oldest daughter is happy with her school and her new friends, and my little one is very outgoing and likes to meet new people,” Gloria said. “I think here we will find good opportunities as a family. For now, I think my road is a little bit narrow, but I am on the right track to find a job as an accountant.”