Partnership helps Spanish-speaking adults reach their educational aims

July 29th, 2021
Hilda Vázquez Gómez at the June graduation event at La Casa Guadalupana. (Photo provided by Hilda.)

After attaining her citizenship four years ago, Hilda decided it was time to pursue another personal aspiration: earning her GED.

“I finished middle school in Mexico, but did not go to high school,” said Hilda, 37. “When I came here in 2005, I didn’t speak any English. I have been learning the language, but I still think in Spanish and translate in my mind to understand.”

Hilda started working on her GED at Southwest Solutions’ Adult Learning Lab at the start of 2018. She then passed three of the four subject exams: Social Studies, Science, and Language Arts. However, she struggled with the Math part.

“Math is the hardest subject for me,” Hilda said. “I felt it would be better for me if the math class was taught in Spanish rather than English.”

To accommodate Hilda’s preference and facilitate her GED completion, the Learning Lab referred her to La Casa Guadalupana, which offers educational and support services to Latino parents and families in southwest Detroit, which is more than half Latino. La Casa Guadalupana (LCG) provides instruction in Spanish. It is also partners with the Learning Lab to help individuals accomplish their educational goals, including getting their high school equivalency (GED) and completing English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. Through the partnership, the Learning Lab and LCG share resources and collaborate to meet the multiple needs of students.

Hilda holds her GED certificate at the graduation event at LCG. (Photo provided by Hilda.)

“The partnership has been a real success, despite the obstacles posed by the pandemic,” said Dr. Lourdes Torres Monaghan, Executive Director of LCG. “We have enrolled 135 students in our program and over 75% participate in the partnership. Students can connect with the Learning Lab during the summer months when our program is not open. We also refer students and their families to other Southwest Solutions’ programs when needed, like mental health counseling and job training.”

Hilda is one of the students who started her GED at the Learning Lab and recently finished it at LCG.

“When I got my certificate, it was hard to believe, I was so happy!” Hilda said.

Hilda and her husband have four children. Two are teenagers, and two are in elementary school.

“I think getting my GED will inspire my kids,” Hilda said. “It shows them how important education is and that it is never too late to learn. It will also inspire my husband, who wants to get his GED, too, so he can get a better job.”

Now that she has her GED, Hilda wants to enroll in training and become certified so she can work in early childhood education. The second income will help her family achieve greater economic security and create more opportunities for success.

“Our partnership with LCG is an incredible asset for our participants and adult learners in southwest Detroit,” said Caitlyn Pisarski, Manager of the Adult Learning Lab. “To be able to provide consistent referrals to a Spanish GED program that embodies the same educational principles we offer in our program is invaluable. I would also like to extend my sincere gratitude to Dr. Lourdes Torres-Monaghan and Sister Marie Benzing for everything they have done over the past year to help make this partnership a success. We look forward to many years of growth and collaboration to come!”

To learn more about the Adult Learning Lab or the Wayne State University / Harris Literacy Program, please email Yaneth Tierrablanca or call her at 313-451-8055 or text at 313-246-3441

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