Hello! My name is Raquel Guzman.
I’m from Mexico D.F. I’m married and have one son named Ricardo. I am happy because in a few months, Ricardo graduates from the University of California, Irvine (UCI).
I am the third of seven sisters and brothers. My parents are no longer living. When my father died in 1986, I was 16 years old. I stopped going to school so I could work and help my mother and brothers.
One of my early jobs was as a seasonal employee for Edible Arrangements. My job was preparing fruits, decorating and assembling arrangements.
I arrived at the Huntington Beach Central Library in search of conversation classes and then they introduced me to my tutor, Susan, for English and conversation classes. I needed to communicate in English with people at work, and with my doctors, because I’m a breast cancer survivor. I was sick for two years. Breast cancer treatment required 33 chemotherapy and 33 radiation sessions. I go to an annual check up, but I am now cancer free!
I worked for a few years as a computer instructor teaching basic computer skills to adults at Oak View Library in Huntington Beach. I also taught basic computer skills where I needed to communicate in English and Spanish to Spanish speaking adults at Ocean View’s Parent Academy in Huntington Beach.
My goals when I first joined the Literacy Volunteers program was to be able to find a better job and buy own Starbucks coffee. I am in English classes and have conversations with my tutor. We meet at Jack In the Box at 7:30 a.m. on Sundays. We study by reading magazines and I do workbooks at home.
I enjoy volunteering for the American Cancer Society’s “Look Good, Feel Better Program.” My duties include teaching cancer patients how to apply makeup, cover their heads with scarves, and look better to improve their self-esteem.
Two years ago, my tutor asked me if I wanted to finish high school. I had to think twice because I’m very bad at math. My tutor told me, “You CAN do it! If you need help or teachers to support you in your subjects, we got it for you.” I answered, “Okay, you think I can do it? Then let’s try it and we’ll ACHIEVE it!”…AND I GRADUATED!
On March 16, 2018, I completed all the requirements needed to earn a high school diploma from Smart Horizons – Career Online Education. I also earned a “General Career Preparation Certificate” as part of the program. On June 1, 2018, I participated in the first Career Online High School (COHS) graduation ceremony held at Central Library in Huntington Beach. Many relatives came to the ceremony. I am the second person out of 7 in my family to earn a high school diploma!
In September, I started working part time for an events staffing company called Britmo. Recently, they had me work in the VIP tent, by myself, at the Huntington Beach Airshow. I had to talk to the sponsors and guests in my tent for over 7 hours while enjoying a front row view of the airshow! I LOVED THIS!
I can now say I am working in a company packing small boxes, I also have my own small business called “Raquel’s Balloon Arches and Decorations,” I am a business owner and operator, licensed in Huntington Beach, California. I am a High School Graduate and I am BILINGUAL!