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Student Success Spotlight

sandra and husband

Sandra

When Sandra finally got up the nerve to pursue her dream, she went all in. She quit her job in housekeeping, and registered for classes - English classes at Literacy Advance, and classes at a private training school to pursue her certification in hemodialysis.

Sandra paid her tuition at the private school, and bought her books and uniform. She was excited - finally she was on her way to achieving her dream of working in the medical field.

Three days later, that dream came crashing down. Sandra left the school in tears, vowing never to go back. The instructor and some of her classmates had made fun of her English, and laughed when she had tried to participate in the classes. She felt singled out and inadequate. She felt stupid to have thought she could ever achieve her dream.

Sandra came to Literacy Advance for an appointment with Diana, the Transition Coach. Visibly upset, she talked about what had happened.

“What I was thinking?! I will never speak good English, I will never be able to get a good job, a job that I like. And I lost that money [spent on books and tuition]. My husband is the only one working; he wanted to support me with my dreams. I feel so ashamed. This is not the example I want for my son.”

When Diana urged her to ask for a refund from the private school, Sandra shook her head adamantly. She felt too ashamed to even call the school.

Diana tried a different approach. She explained that there were other options - ways to get a CNA certification and later, hemodialysis certification. Thanks to programs like United Way THRIVE, some of those certification programs were even FREE! Sandra couldn't believe what she was hearing.

But she was still hesitant; her confidence was shaken by her experience in the other classes. Diana showed Sandra a map of the local area, showing how close Memorial Assistance Ministries (MAM) is to Literacy Advance. She encouraged Sandra to at least visit MAM, and enquire about their CNA certification programs. Still unsure, Sandra said she'd think about it.

Days later, she was back at Literacy Advance, all smiles.

"I did it! I registered for CNA classes at MAM, and they were free! And the people were so nice. They said I can do it!"

Since then, Sandra has gone from sandra and familystrength to strength. She's completed her CNA certification, and gone on to an Employment Certification and a Customer Service Certification, completing both. She's stayed consistent in her attendance at her Literacy Advance English classes, so her English keeps improving. Sandra says that her English classes have helped her become more confident, and because they are small group classes, she says she gets more individual attention from the tutor, which helps her to ask questions and make more progress.

And now the successes are piling up! Sandra has a part-time job, working as a CNA. Her growing English and self-confidence motivated her to apply for U.S. citizenship, and she's waiting to be scheduled for her citizenship interview.

"It is incredible to have a place where you can learn English for free, and where is also guidance to get you connected with the help that you need. If it wasn’t for this program, I would never know about other opportunities, and would never gotten my certifications."

sandra, CNASandra is close to achieving her dream. In addition to her part-time job, she's started volunteering in a clinic to practice her skills in phlebotomy and gain further experience. She'll complete her hemodialysis certification later this year. Soon, she'll finish the citizenship process. As we celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month throughout June, we could hardly imagine a more classic story of the American Dream.

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So much more is possible because of you. Every gift matters, especially yours, as we work every day to ensure a brighter future for our community and for families like Sandra's. Together, we’re able to do so much more, and make the American Dream come true for people across Houston. Your gift will make dreams come true for another family - will you give today?

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