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One Step Forward for Laura

Updated: Nov 3, 2022

For a lot of our students, taking that first step towards literacy is a hard task to accomplish. Not for Laura Soto. Born and raised in Mexico City, Laura was in constant fear. When riding the bus, she encountered horrific attacks on a daily basis.

"All the passengers were assaulted and personal items and money were all stolen from them. It wasn't safe and I was very scared living there."

Safety was her focus. As a mother to two young boys, she wanted a better life for them. After many years of being scared for their lives, Laura took a leap and immigrated to the United States in search of safety for herself and her family.

At age 35, she and her husband and children settled down in Modesto, California. Upon arriving in the U.S., Laura felt a weight lift off her shoulders.

She didn't have to be in fear anymore. She could raise her boys in a safe environment, and not have to constantly be afraid.

After being in the United States with her family, a new set of challenges presented itself. She got a job working in a warehouse on the assembly line but she had a hard time understanding English. She remembered the very moment she knew she needed help.

"I couldn't explain what I needed and my English was not enough. There was no one to translate, and I would feel lost in a conversation because I didn't understand"

Feeling lost, Laura didn't let it deter her from taking the step to learn English.

Laura started learning some English from her children who started going to school. It started off great, but she wanted to learn even more and go one step further.

Laura soon began her search and found LearningQuest. She first attended the Spanish High School Equivalency (HSE) classes to get her diploma. She knew she was on the right path to achieving her goals. After graduating, she signed up for the Adult Literacy program at LearningQuest so she could receive one-on-one tutoring in the Stanislaus County Library.

In 2018, Laura stepped into the Adult Literacy program. In the beginning, she was testing at a 2nd-grade reading level. With her goals in mind, Laura worked hard every week with her instructor, Mike DeZego, to improve her reading, writing, and speaking skills.

“I would like to say that my tutor, Mike, IS THE BEST because he is so patient with me and truly cares about teaching me... I am very glad he is a part of the program and I hope he can keep teaching me much more”

Since entering the program, Laura has jumped from a 2nd-grade reading level to an

8th-grade reading level. And she doesn't intend on stopping there!

Laura is a reminder to us all that the gift of literacy is a

life-changing one.

Many of our students have that same need that Laura had when immigrating to the United States. It's not easy to step out of your comfort zone, especially in a new place where you can't communicate effectively. Our students continue to trust us in guiding them through every step they make.

This holiday season, help us reach our $35,000 goal to give students a hand in checking off their literacy wish lists.

Learn more about the Literacy for the Holidays fundraiser (Nov 15 - Dec 31) below.

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