Saturday, April 26, 2014

Learner Spotlight: Selena

Selena writing her next essay.
She scribbled a number 4 on blue paper, then 4/s =4 and then looked up at me through her dark rimmed glasses and said: “I didn't understand that.” Meet Selena Enriquez, age 18. As a teenager Selena realized that she did not fit in at her high school; she felt threatened, she felt judged. Her experience at school was drudgery, and she felt alone. These feelings were anchored in her inability to read, write, and perform simple math functions. “I felt nervous and judged at school,” she recounts. She moved around from room to room, classroom to classroom, without much learning. Her environment was inhibiting her growth as a student. There was little room to grow and flourish. The positive support of family, while immensely helpful, did not translate to better results in the classroom. Her aspirations of being a certified nurse, just like her cousin, seemed far distant.

She soon found herself in Salt Lake Community College, when she came to the realization that her abilities were insufficient for expected college level competencies the areas of math, English and writing. “I never knew how to read [very well],” she remembers.

That was when she heard about the Literacy Action Center (LAC). With her brother by her side, she decided to move forward and enroll.

Three months later, after consistent effort and dedication Selena has seen remarkable improvements. With a twinkle in her eye she reports that she has moved from an E level to an A level. After inquiring what an “A level” meant in the program, she said authoritatively, “It’s the highest level in the class.” Her math and reading scores have in effect doubled. Her books of choice, before LAC, were picture books and short chapter books. Now, she restlessly consumes all of the Hunger Game novels, The Lost Child, and just recently stepped into the realm of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series. Not to mention her math skills have dramatically developed, and math has since become her favorite subject.

“When I come into the Literacy Action Center I’m excited to learn!” Much of the growth that has occurred in Selena’s three-month academic sprint is due to the programming at LAC, support of volunteers and staff, and freedom to learn at her own pace. “I love it here," she says. "I have friends, it’s fun, and you have help whenever you need it!” She proudly says that she is the first one to consistently finish math problems on the board.

Selena still has nine more months in LAC program before officially moving on to pursue her goal of becoming a certified nurse, just like her cousin. “She [her
cousin] tells me all the time that I can do it,” Selena says, “and now I believe I can do it.”

In fact, Selena is so motivated that she tells her father when they are ready to leave at six in the morning that she can’t wait to go to Literacy Action Center to continue learning. To which her father praises: “That’s my girl!” Even Facebook friends are impressed by how cheerful she is by her pictures and posts.

Certainly, she is someone who has garnered a love for learning. The next nine months is sure to yield the fruits of an honest toil, and in time to college.

"Learner Spotlight: Selena" was written by Brandon Schembri, a freelance writer, who is collecting and sharing stories about our learners. “Selena” is the first of a series of “Spotlights” Brandon will be posting on our blog over the next few months.

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