LAUSD/DACE - Harbor Occupational Center
Nominated in 2023
Cecilia Delgado has faced and overcome many obstacles in her career as a student. Leaving her family in Mexico and coming to California was one of the most difficult challenges in Cecilia’s life. Moving to a big city where she didn’t know anyone felt overwhelming at first. Neither Cecilia nor her family had cell phones. This made it even harder to stay in contact. Even going to the market was stressful because she didn’t understand what the cashiers were saying. Moreover, she had to ask for an interpreter when she went to the doctor. She felt frustrated and embarrassed. She knew that she had to learn English if she was going to be successful in this country.
Eventually, Cecilia found a job in housekeeping for a major hotel chain in Los Angeles. However, it was stressful because she didn’t speak or understand any English. Fortunately, one of her co-workers invited her to visit an ESL class at a local adult school. She enrolled in Level One of ESL at Harbor Occupational Center in San Pedro. That was over 20 years ago and despite numerous challenges and interruptions to her education, she has never given up.
When she started in the ESL program, Cecila felt excited and grateful to have the opportunity to learn English. She was relieved to meet people who were in the same situation as her. In addition, she was able to take classes at the same school where her son went to preschool. Little by little, her English improved. Furthermore, she received her US Citizenship thanks to a citizenship class she took at Banning Adult School in Wilmington.
As Cecilia’s English improved, she started receiving promotions at work. Her first promotion was to Housekeeping Supervisor at her hotel. Several years later, she was promoted to Assistant Manager of the hotel. Also, she was now able to translate for her co-workers who didn’t speak English. Because her writing skills improved, she was given more responsibility and started to handle more complex documents and paperwork in the office. Eventually, she started processing payroll for the hotel employees.
Unfortunately, when the pandemic hit in 2020 she was laid off from her job because the hotel closed. This was a disappointing setback. In spite of this, she decided to take advantage of the online classes offered by Harbor Occupational Center. She credits her computer teacher, Mr. Julio Navarro, with helping her to significantly improve her computer skills. Eventually, Cecilia took a housekeeping job at another hotel. Finally, she was able to return to the hotel where she had started her career. She was again promoted to Assistant Manager.
In March 2023, Cecilia completed ESL Level 6. It’s been a long journey since she first started in Level One. When Cecilia started working at her hotel over 20 years ago, she couldn’t understand anything at the hotel staff meetings. Now, she translates for her manager at the meetings. She is currently enrolled in the Hi Set Prep Class at Harbor Occupational Center. After she gets her High School Diploma, she plans to take management classes in college. Her goal is to one day become a hotel manager. Cecilia has persisted and persevered through many challenges which have helped her to develop a growth mindset. She tells other students that it’s important 'to never give up, to stay positive, and to keep reaching for your goals!’