"The first thing I thought was, what am I going to do all this time?"
We have to be up-front with our new students, and one of the things we tell all of them at New Student Registration is that they'll have to wait.
No one likes the wait - not us, not the students, not the tutors - but there are just so many people who need classes, and not enough rooms or volunteer tutors. Check the waitlist on any given day and it will be at least 300, very likely more. But rather than cancel all New Student Registrations until we clear the list (we couldn't bear saying "no" to the calls we get every day, asking for classes), we try to manage the numbers of new students registering, and the wait time. We also try to have a variety of opportunities that students can get started with while they wait. It's a balancing act that never works out perfectly for anyone, but it's the best we can do right now.
So Bianica knew that she'd have to wait a while until she was matched with a volunteer tutor. She was willing to wait, but she wanted to do SOMETHING.
"I started going to the group class for reading on Wednesday and Saturday; it was good for me. I started reading out loud; that was something I was afraid to do. I had a very good tutor. Then one day somebody told me about the computer class. I always wanted to learn Excel and Microsoft Word."
Bianica was relieved when she talked to the Transition Coach at Literacy Advance and heard that there were still openings in the computer class. Not only was it one of her personal goals to learn about computers, she was just glad to be in a class. She said it kept her motivated to keep coming; keep learning.
She'd known for a while that she needed to improve her computer skills.
"I didn’t feel confident. I'm good at my job, but when I looked at my co-workers working on Excel or other software, I felt bad because I didn’t know how to work on the computer using those programs. I was afraid to ask my co-workers because they would think I wanted to learn and take their jobs, and they would know I didn’t have the skills. I was afraid to step out and look for better opportunities.”
Asked how she felt after completing two 50-hour classes, one in Word and one in Excel, Bianica's answer is brimming with confidence and emotion.
"I loved the classes! I’m prepared for my next job, and I'm not afraid anymore! I want to keep learning; I feel good about myself!"
Bianica with her computer teacher, Hugo Soto (right), and Mr. Carlos Lopez of the Mexican Institute, with her SECOND computer class certificate of completion. Literacy Advance partners with the Mexican Institute to offer computer literacy classes.
The last time Bianica met with the Transition Coach, that confidence was just as evident. She renewed her laptop loan from Literacy Advance, to keep practicing Excel and Word at home, and to look for jobs online. She said she's been applying for jobs with her updated resume and that she's not only had some calls for interviews, she's also had a couple of job offers.
She's also very motivated to keep learning, and was excited when the Transition Coach talked to her about a referral to the Neuhaus Education Center for extra classes. Neuhaus specializes in learning differences, and Bianica was excited about the possibility of classes there as she has dyslexia and never got the proper help to learn during her schooling.
"My mother didn’t know anything about dyslexia and the school didn’t help me either. I’m excited about this, I don’t want to repeat the same cycle, I want to show my grandson and my kids that there are options."
Bianica has broken the cycle. There ARE options, and she'll be the first to help her kids and grandson if they need help finding their way forward.
See what your support can do? THANK YOU. You provided computer classes, a laptop loan program, and reading group - all crucial things that Bianica could do while she waited. Your gift today will help more of that great stuff happen. Thank you - none of this could happen without the kindness of people like you!