Our Los Angeles Technology Center (LATC) campus recently checked-in with Marcos Chitay, a student of theirs who completed the English as a Second Language (ESL) program and went on to earn his high school diploma. Marcos is currently attending West Los Angeles College (WLAC) and is on track to earn his Associate Degree in Business Administration in Winter of 2022. After that, he plans on transferring to California State University system to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting.
In 2010, at the age of 20, Marcos moved with his parents to the United States from Guatemala City. Marcos tells us, “My first thought was it is going to be a very great opportunity, but I didn’t know any words in English, so it was very challenging to start a new life in this country. I knew the language was a barrier that I had to face in order to accomplish my dreams.”
Living in Los Angeles, far away from his friends, Marcos knew that to have a better life he needed to continue his education. Marcos understood this wouldn’t be easy. He would need to learn English and then get his high school diploma, doing this all while holding down a part-time job. In Marcos’ own words, “It was hard to learn a second language, but I knew that it was very important in order to communicate with people around me. I made the decision to take ESL classes in the morning and go to work during the afternoon, in order to balance my work and school.”
Marcos finished his ESL classes in under 2 years and made the transition to our high school diploma program. He tells us, “It was as hard as when I started ESL classes, but I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to experience everything that comes with being a U.S. high school graduate.”
Not only was Marcos motivated to earn his high school diploma, but after taking a political science class at LATC which was taught by a WLAC professor, he had his sights set on college. Marcos soon learned that he could take college classes while in our high school diploma program and use those classes for some of his high school credits, accelerating his academic and career pathway.
Marcos has a motivational message for all the ESL students out there. He says, “You are learning English as a Second Language, and sometimes the going gets tough. You are overwhelmed by the number of new words you are getting in class and sometimes you might get so confused that you feel discouraged to continue your learning. Not to mention as an adult you must work too, but I suggest that you look at the big picture. You need to remember that improving your English skills will open doors to better job opportunities. Every one of you has a reason for learning English; just make sure you never lose sight of what it is.”
He goes on to say, “Knowing that I’m capable of accomplishing one of my biggest dreams in life feels amazing; not to mention the diploma gave me hope and a new life that I am extremely grateful for. Now that I am studying at West Los Angeles College, I have learned how to better manage my time, take advantage of online resources, and better organize myself.”
Attending college, Marcos tells us, has enriched his life in many ways. It has taught him valuable knowledge, provided him with the tools necessary to enhance his skills and will ultimately provide him with more opportunities.
Marcos believes education is the most important tool anyone can receive. He reminds us that Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”