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