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Learning The Skills To Succeed And Adapt

June 18, 2005
By ASHLEY L. BATTLE, Courant Staff Writer

Yenitza Arce recalled that at one point her 7-year-old son was telling his friends that he could speak English better than his mother.

However, that is no longer the case.

Arce, 29, who has been living in the mainland United States for eight months, was one of 24 graduates Friday morning at CREC, a pilot program run by the Greater Hartford Literacy Council and the New England Farm Workers' Council.

Arce, who has also has an 8-month-old daughter, holds an associate's degree as a pharmacy technician from Puerto Rico and hopes to get another associate's degree in the near future, possibly from Capital Community College.

During her address to her fellow graduates, she said, "I want to show that Latinos can achieve our dreams too."

The graduation ceremony was the culmination of 15 weeks of intensive English literacy classes that were integrated with employment skills. The program is specifically for parents who are on welfare.

Carl Guerriere, executive director of Greater Hartford Literacy Council, said the program is unusual because since welfare reform, many similar programs focus only on providing the employment skills, not the literacy. "Literacy is crucial," Guerriere said.

At the same ceremony, eight students also graduated from the City of Hartford's Community Development Block Grants program. The grants were provided by the federal government.

During his remarks, given in both English and Spanish, Guerriere wished graduates the best of luck, telling them that now they had a chance to gain better employment opportunities because they have learned the English language.

Edgardo Tejada also addressed his fellow graduates. Tejada, 35, came from Puerto Rico seven months ago. "I had the determination to learn the English language. Let's take the challenge of learning the English language so we can be successful," he urged his fellow graduates.

Tejada said his next goal is to apply for a commercial driver's license.

Phil Prelli, commissioner of the state agriculture department, offered remarks on behalf of the governor.

"You have learned more in 15 weeks than I learned in 15 years of education, so congratulations," said Prelli.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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