LAUSD/DACE - South Gate Community Adult School
Like too many women, Antonia Esparza was living in an abusive situation. She saw the unhappiness in her children, and knew that her life had to change. So, the stay-at-home mom and housewife for 25 years left to start a new life. Knowing she would need marketable skills to provide for her children and herself she enrolled in South Gate Community Adult School. Being in school took Antonia away from her troubles for a couple hours each day, but more importantly, it helped her to gain needed skills and the self-esteem to move forward with her life.
It was difficult at first. Feelings of low self-esteem brought frequent tears to Antonia as she sat in the back of the room and contemplated the path her life had taken. She would often appear absent-minded as thoughts of her problems overwhelmed her. But eventually, through the kind and gentle encouragement of her instructor, Karla Rubio, Antonia began to apply herself, take her classes seriously, and successfully completed the Computer Applications program. It was challenging and time consuming, but Antonia was determined not to let the challenges of her past get in the way of her future.
Encouraging and caring instructors have helped Antonia to move forward toward goals, in spite of her difficulty learning English. To improve her language skills and transition into higher learning, Antonia is attending classes at LATTC Community College.
Adult education gave Antonia the tools she needed to successfully move beyond her situation and develop skills that have helped her encourage others faced with life's difficulties. In April 2003, while still attending South Gate CAS, she completed a Prenatal and Childbirth Educator course and Community Health Promoter program at Esperanza Community Housing Corporation. Clinical training followed and was completed while she worked part-time as a customer service representative. She now spends time as a community health liaison at St. John's dental clinic to to increase the health care awareness in the community. To help others facing some of the same challenges that she did, Antonia volunteered to assist with the weekly sessions given by her own psychologist. It was a way to give back and say thank you to all those who helped her overcome her low self-esteem and to meet her life goals.
Antonia volunteered on a spanish radio station speaking about domestic violence to women who are presently in the same situation as she was. She would like to return to radio station and give advice on preventive dental care and family health. She is grateful to the adult education programs that were available and helped her get started. She is also thankful for the staff that motivated her and kept her focused. She has been asked to speak at battered women’s shelters, sharing with other women the resources available to them through adult education programs. As others encouraged her, Antonia encourages and inspire these women to look beyond their circumstances and reach out toward their own goals and dreams.
Adult education changed Antonia's life. In her words, "Adult education has helped me and my sons grow in confidence. My achievements through adult education have also inspired and motivated my sons to pursue their own education and enroll in college to achieve higher education. And last but not least, I would like to thank God for his spiritual guidance which made all this possible."