Winning Student Essays 2014

 

firstplaceFIRST PLACE:  Life Changes More Than One Time and It’s Never Too Late to Learn

By Gladys Lago

 

 Hi! I would like to tell you how many times and how my life has changed. At first, my life changed very naturally. It was when I got married. One year later, my life changed again when I received my little son in my arms.

The third time my life changed was when we (my husband, son and I) had to leave our home in Cuba to start a new life in another country. Believe me, my life changed! Four years later, we came to the United States. A new adaptation and a new change in my life. Wherever you come from or whoever you are, life changes.

 I’m a person who likes to talk and to be friendly, but when I came to this country, I spoke only Spanish. For that reason, I went to school to study. In this way, I can communicate with other people. I continue to practice English in conversation class. I don’t always speak correctly, but I feel much better. My dream is to speak English fluently. I hope I can do it!

Another thing, I never drove a car before but here, where I’m living, I needed to do it. For this reason, I went to driving school. I passed my test in 1974 and got my driver’s license. Believe me, I love to drive!

More things that changed my life are my three grandchildren, Trey, Diego and Eva. They give me so many happy days.

Every day you can learn something new. Don’t be afraid to study. You can do it!

Would you like to know how old I am? Okay!… My birth date is January 6, 1930. In closing, I’m very happy how my life changed.

 

 second place

How Literacy Has Changed My Life

By Mike Mathis

 I have been a student with the Literacy Council of Upper Pinellas since 2001. I have had many tutors over the years.One of my first tutors was Ms. Vicki. She was the head of the literacy council until she passed away in 2008. Tutors like John, Laurie, Paul and now Martin have helped me with my reading, writing, and math skills. There were some other teachers but I can’t remember their names. I learned something from each of them.

 Back in 1996, I messed up with the law and was placed on probation. Being on probation meant I was not able to leave the group home without a staff member. So, me and my four housemates went shopping, to doctors’ appointments, eating out and on vacations together. I wanted to take classes to improve my reading and memory skills.

 Because of my good behavior, reports from my case worker and group home director, I was able to show that the judge I was learning and finally got off probation in June, 2013. I am free at last to leave the house, get a job, learning to drive, go fishing, or other things.

 Martin, my tutor, helped me with a letter to the judge about my desire to get off probation and continue my education. I can say that literacy tutoring changed my life over the years. I can read and understand things better. I really like the Reading Horizons Elevate program.

 Now that I am free, I have decided to set some new goals. I want to take a bus trip to Panama City (Florida) and visit my brother and his family when I save enough money. I want to pass the GED test. I would like to have my own computer someday. I dream of having my own place with a little garden.

 I am thankful to all of the people who helped me these last thirteen years like my house parents, housemates, group home director, and friends. My tutors like Paul, Martin and others made a difference in my life. Thanks also to LCUP!

 

third_place_winner

How Literacy Has Changed My Life

 By Marcos Martinez

 

Every day is a new opportunity for me. Knowing how to communicate in English in this interesting country (USA) with all of the people around me, I have to take advantage of these speaking opportunities offered to me. It is not easy for me to divide my time between my job, my studies and other activities. I need to make time to learn English, practice words and memorize pronunciation. It is good improving my English skills to survive daily and change my life.

With great joy, I can say that I have learned a lot in one and a half years of attending Conversation Classes and being tutored. I think that my English skills are satisfactory thanks to my personal efforts and the help from my past tutor and teachers. They are always ready to answer my questions as well as the encouragement from my fellow students. But the truth is that I have much more to learn about the English language. I have goals like passing the GED, going to college and becoming a professional again which require higher language skill levels. I would like to know more about computers and learn special programs for drafting and design in architecture. I want to become a citizen.

Let me illustrate some of the benefits of knowing English on a daily basis. Walking in a store or library, I greet people, employees, tell them my needs and they talk to me. At work, I complete written or verbal orders from my boss and customers. On occasion, I help other Hispanics persons who are having trouble being understood. Sometimes in class, I translate a word or phrase for the teacher and students to understand. I take my father to the doctor and help him understand the directions to improve his health. Answering the phone or understanding a television or radio person is a challenge especially when they speak fast. Many English words have different meanings!

Sometimes I get discouraged that I am not remembering an important word or the correct pronunciation. Whether it is a memory or translation problem, I would like to be able to write better without re-writing so much. But my mom and dad remind me that I know so much more English than when I came to Florida four years ago. My friends and my teachers encourage me to continue learning and accomplishing life goals. I keep praying that God will give me the wisdom, strength and desire to continue on and succeed.

Yes, learning English has had a positive impact on my life! I am grateful to the literacy council for its programs.