Opportunities to Celebrate

When Maria “Lina” Guzman immigrated with her family to the United States in 2000 with the dream of college education for her children, she never thought she would be providing the academic inspiration. This summer Lina, a 39 year-old resident of Harvey, IL, finds herself planning a graduation party for herself and her daughter Nancy, a recent first-generation graduate of South Suburban College. Lina earned her High School Equivalency (HSE) through SSC’s Adult Education Program.

“My daughter is so happy and proud of me, and my whole family wants a big celebration when we are able to do it safely,” says proud mother Lina, who interjects that her daughter is on her way to Purdue University Northwest this fall armed with her Associate’s Degree.

Lina first came to SSC in 2016 to register for English as a Second Language (ESL) classes to help her communicate better with customers at her job; however, she tested out of ESL. Initially, she was very disappointed since she felt her language skills still needed to improve – when she learned of another option – HSE for ESL. The entire program was free through her community college and the SSC Foundation even paid for her testing vouchers. Lina was able to pass all her GED Exams in English by June of 2020 despite working and enduring the challenges of an ongoing pandemic, such as being unable to attend classes in-person. 

“I know more about American history than I know about my native country,” added Lina. “I learned Science and Math… I learned so much Math! And I learned, to write in English so that I can communicate with customers and co-workers when we can’t speak directly to each other. “

While Lina is working full-time she says her education has also empowered her to start the process of establishing her own business. She plans to continue that pursuit while she begins taking classes towards her college degree at SSC.

“I’m thankful to my teachers for inspiring me to keep going. This has been a wonderful experience and I am so grateful for the opportunity to set an example for my family.” Lina’s sister plans to enroll in ESL this fall – This is Success.