Isabel Eicher’s Story

At the 2017 Spring Graduation ceremony, Isabel Eicher delivered a memorable speech based on struggle and success.  She allowed us to understand and appreciate the experience of realizing self-worth and determination in which every LearningQuest student can relate.  Here is her story…

2017 Graduation Speech

Isabel Eicher

Good afternoon everyone, my name is Isabel Eicher and I am very happy to be here with you all today. I would like to share a little about myself and my time at LearningQuest. When I was a young adult I wasn’t able to finish high school because I moved to the United States. I wanted to continue my education but the language barrier made it very difficult. Everything was new and I was not accustomed to this new culture. I had a hard time trying to continue my education in this country because I had to work to help my family in Mexico. So I took it upon myself to learn English. Since I was unable to attend a school I went to the public libraries, where I received tutoring in English as a Second Language (ESL). As time passed I learned English, but I still wanted to finish my basic education. This was my second challenge, finding a place that offered basic education in my native language, Spanish.

Finally I found a place, LearningQuest. I called and was put on their waitlist for a few months and finally got the call to start classes. When I started I loved the way the teacher explained (things). Certain things she did made it easy to understand. Our teacher, Isela is very intelligent and a great inspiration to her students, that lead me to have a deep respect for her. She would leave us tons of homework and I soon realized how difficult it was to balance my job, my home duties and my school work. Getting to class on-time was the most difficult part. I would drive from work in Livermore to class here in Modesto. I would be stuck in traffic for an hour and a half or more. Despite not being able to be in class on-time I managed to pass 4 out of 5 tests my first try. Math is my favorite subject, but was the most difficult to pass. Luckily I passed it on my last attempt and I couldn’t believe it. I felt so many emotions, I didn’t think it was real.

I would like to give thanks to the LearningQuest staff for being able to be here today. And a special thanks to my teachers — Isela, Brenda and Victor also to Estefania and my classmates. Being in this program was a very warming and positive experience. Today I receive my High School Equivalency Certificate and am continuing my education at Modesto Junior College this semester. My goal is to become a Business Administrator of a large company.

Thanks to Learning Quest I can now continue on to fulfill that goal. Congratulations to all the graduates here today. WE DID IT!

20 years of tutoring = 20 years of joy

Literacy tutor John Comer has been at it awhile. Almost 20 years in fact. When John and his wife, Leslie, relocated to Modesto from the Bay Area, John was looking for volunteer opportunities. “Hey,” he said to himself, “I’m an educated guy… I’ll bet I could share my knowledge and experience with others.”
Indeed, John, recently retired from a 40-year career as a graphic artist, had already tried his hand at tutoring, working with Afghani and Chinese immigrants, helping them to assimilate into our culture by working with them to improve their English skills.

 John Comer and student

John came to LearningQuest – then Stanislaus Literacy Centers – in 2000 and has worked with a number of adult students over the years. One of his former students, he recalls, telephoned him recently to say hello. “That meant a lot to me,” he says. “I find that with tutoring, friendships often develop.” He is currently working with Ruben, a grandfather, who has always struggled with reading. One of nine children, Ruben was always good with his hands, excelling in woodshop and other manual tasks, but reading was always difficult. “John takes his time with me,” says Ruben. “He is very patient and understands me.”

Although John, now a young 85, has been tutoring for almost two decades, he finds that students are generally the same, at least in their desire to learn.. Almost without exception, he says, they are committed, eager, and willing to work hard to achieve their goals.

For John, a Korean veteran who also volunteers with his church in outreach and community service work, the main goal in working with students, aside from improving their literacy skills, is to help them be confident and productive citizens. “I ask myself, how can I help this student feel like an accepted member of our community,” he says. This is especially important, he says, with students who are new to our country and learning to navigate social and cultural obstacles on their way toward assimilation.

As with many LearningQuest tutors, learning is a two-way street. “I am gaining as much as my students,” says John, who likes to learn new things. “By teaching them, I am learning more about the world.”

Never too late to realize the dream of college

Bob tutoring Erica       Bob and student Erica

Love brought Erica Gomez to the U.S. 16 years ago. Her childhood sweetheart had immigrated to California and he missed her terribly. A high school graduate in her hometown of Medallin, Colombia, Erica worked in a bank.  But she believed in her future husband and a more prosperous future so she followed him and they were married. Now 42 and with two children, Erica is a student at LearningQuest’s Adult Literacy program. (Read more link here)…

Erica works with tutor, Robert Dowd,to improve her English so she can enroll in Child Development courses at Modesto Junior College to pursue her goal of becoming a teacher and work with autistic children.

She learned about the literacy program from a friend. “It’s a good program,” she said. “The people – Natalie and the staff  – are very helpful, and my tutor understands and encourages me.” One challenge Erica faces is in practicing her English skills. As often happens with female students, her family – who all are bilingual and speak English well – do not encourage Erica to speak English at home. She enrolled at non-credit ESL classes at MJC where she has more opportunities to practice her English.

“Erica is determined to learn and succeed,” says Dowd, who is also helping Erica to navigate the educational system in her native Colombia in hopes of having her high school diploma transferred and recognized by MJC. However, if that doesn’t work, Erica has the option of attending LearningQuest’s HSE program, which offers High School Equivalency preparation in both English and Spanish.

Love and determination: an unstoppable combination, at least where Erica is concerned.

Student follow her heart and her dreams

 

Bob and student Erica

 

Love brought Erica Gomez to the U.S. 16 years ago. Her childhood sweetheart had immigrated to California and he missed her terribly. A high school graduate in her hometown of Medallin, Colombia, Erica worked in a bank.  But she believed in her future husband and a more prosperous future so she followed him and they were married. Now 42 and with two children, Erica is a student at LearningQuest’s Adult Literacy program. (Read more link here)…

Erica works with tutor, Robert Dowd,to improve her English so she can enroll in Child Development courses at Modesto Junior College to pursue her goal of becoming a teacher and work with autistic children.

 

Bob tutoring Erica

She learned about the literacy program from a friend. “It’s a good program,” she said. “The people – Natalie and the staff  – are very helpful, and my tutor understands and encourages me.” One challenge Erica faces is in practicing her English skills. As often happens with female students, her family – who all are bilingual and speak English well – do not encourage Erica to speak English at home. She enrolled at non-credit ESL classes at MJC where she has more opportunities to practice her English.

“Erica is determined to learn and succeed,” says Dowd, who is also helping Erica to navigate the educational system in her native Colombia in hopes of having her high school diploma transferred and recognized by MJC. However, if that doesn’t work, Erica has the option of attending LearningQuest’s HSE program, which offers High School Equivalency preparation in both English and Spanish.

Erica

Love and determination: an unstoppable combination, at least where Erica is concerned.

LQ college prep program offers a clear path from probation to college

When Veronica Nunez was released from County Jail, she was determined to continue her education. While incarcerated, Nunez had earned her HSE (High School Equivalency) certificated through LearningQuest’s jail program. Her goal was to go to college, but like many students, early placement testing showed she would need remedial work in math before beginning college-level courses. In Nunez’s case, this would have meant up to four semesters of non-credit courses, costing time and money that she did not have.

Fortunately, Nunez was able to benefit from a new college prep program created by LearningQuest to help motivated students who are currently on probation, prepare for the college placement test. LQ Program Director Hallie VanDeventer initiated the program in response to data which showed that many students who enter college begin with remedial classes and take too long to reach their goal; many students grow discouraged and drop out. The goal of LQ’s college prep class is to help students prepare for the college placement test so that they can score higher and begin at college level instead of with remedial classes.

Isela
“The college prep program serves students who are still in probation and are high school graduates, students with a HSE or students about to obtain their HSE and what to go to college,” states Correctional Program Manager Isela Gutierrez, pictured above. Along with Jail Instructor Zachary Lake, Gutierrez provides instruction at Day Reporting Center and inside the jail..

For Nunez and others on probation who will soon be exiting the correctional system, the program offers the chance to continue her education and stay on track for a better life after incarceration. With high recidivism rates a sad reality, the program offers an alternative to highly motivated individuals like Nunez who are eager to move forward and succeed.

 

 

Success stories of students are truly amazing

September 8, International Literacy Day, is celebrated by our agency with a supplement in the Modesto Bee.  Click here to read the amazing stories of our students like Arowa Humadi who ultimately was separated from her children when she chose to get an education.  Also read about Esteban Torres who was not deterred from his goal of a diploma and now has a better job.  How precious an education is to our students is evident as you read these stories.

Leaving a Legacy of Literacy

Over the last few years, many friends of LearningQuest have asked us about including LearningQuest in their wills or other estate planning vehicles in addition to making their annual gifts. We are indeed blessed.

Occasionally, financial advisors will recommend that gifts be made to charitable organizations before year’s end in order to reduce tax obligations. Other good friends want to plan well for how their estates will benefit those charities which they care about deeply.

Time after time, proceeds from an estate will be shared with LearningQuest because of the donors’ passion for helping to improve lives.

Here are a few ways you may want to consider in your estate planning:

· Bequest: One of the most common planned gifts. A nonprofit organization is bequeathed a gift in a donor’s will or trust. The gift may be designated as (a) percentage of the donor’s estate, (b) specific dollar amount or specific property, (c) residual of the donor’s estate or (d) contingent upon a certain event happening. The value of the gift to LearningQuest is not subject to estate taxes.

· Outright Gift: A gift of cash, appreciated securities, real estate, personal property, etc. – the title of which is legally transferred will generate an income tax deduction (for those who itemize deductions), for the full fair market value and capital gains taxes are avoided, reducing the cost of the gift to the donor.

· Life Insurance Policy: A relatively inexpensive way for a donor to leave a significant gift to a nonprofit organization. A new policy may be taken out on the life of a younger donor, and the policy given to LearningQuest to “create” a major, deferred gift to LearningQuest with the cost of the premium being a small fraction of the face value of the policy. Donors may also have existing policies which are no longer needed for their original purposes (such as to assure a child’s education) which can be given. With a change of policy ownership and beneficiary to the nonprofit, the donor can contribute the premium amount to the charity and the policy’s face value can be maintained. If the donor chooses not to continue payments, the cash value or “paid up insurance” value can be significant. Donors’ tax deductions are equal to their cash/replacement value or premiums paid, depending on the type of policy.

· Retirement Income: Retirement plan distribution. Retirement plan distributions can be taxed for both estate and income tax purposes (often 75%-80%) when passed from the decedent to other than the decedent’s spouse. Since 100% of the IRD plan can be gifted to a qualified charity without tax it has become a prime estate planning gift, leaving other estate assets (which are not taxed for income) to loved ones. Gifts of IRD plans should be gifted directly to LearningQuest by designating the charity as the beneficiary
There are other forms of planned gifts. We recommend that you work with your financial advisor and attorney for up-to-date information and regulations. These professionals can help you determine the best way to plan your estate. When doing so, we hope you will consider including LearningQuest in your plans.