Maria Felix Suarez
LAUSD/DACE - Harbor Occupational Center
Nominated in 2021
Maria Felix Suarez enrolled in her first ESL class in 2003 at the Harbor Occupational Center in San Pedro. It was very difficult for her because she did not speak any English. Also, her daughter had just started second grade. Thanks to the English she has learned over the years, Maria has been able to help her daughter with her homework. She has also volunteered many times over the years at her daughter's various schools. Her daughter, Ivette Nohemi, now attends Banning High School in Wilmington and plans to go to college.
Because of personal challenges, Maria has had to interrupt her academic career many times during the past 18 years. But she never gave up. She kept coming to ESL classes whenever she could. Her English continued to improve. She eventually got a job in a flower shop, where she had numerous opportunities to improve her English communication skills.
Maria experienced more hardships when the pandemic hit in 2020. She had to return to Mexico. In spite of this obstacle, Maria persevered. She called Harbor Occupational Center and signed up for Zoom classes. She has since completed Level 3a and 3b on Zoom and is currently in Level 4. In addition, she is enrolled in a computer class. She also got a job at CONAFOR (Comision Nacional Forestal) in Mexico. This organization provided support during the forest fires in California last summer. This continues to motivate her to improve and put her communication skills to work, because her goal is to support her team with their communication skills in English while in California and other countries and to have better job opportunities.
Maria has never allowed her obstacles to bring her down. Her goal is to become a wildland firefighter in Southern California. She hopes to return to Southern California soon, complete her ESL program, and apply for a firefighter training program.