Class of 2018!

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!

graduation 2018On 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!


So thankful!

I am so thankful for this program because it helped me a lot with my Citizenship test.  I passed it with a score of 100% and now I am really happy that I am a U.S. Citizen.  My teacher is very nice and patient.  My goal now is to get a diploma from high school and I am looking for a new job, too.

Thank you for the literacy program!




I am learning English to help my children with homework.

I am learning English to talk to teachers.

I am learning English to find a job.

I am learning English to know what my children are saying.


what are your goals?

My Baby Doll

When I was a child like a six or seven years old, I wished with all my heart for a doll with long hair but I thought that was impossible. I asked my mother if she could buy me one but she didn’t want to! I never lost hope and I was thinking how can I get it. My only opportunity to get my doll was that the Wise Men were approaching. Who are the Wise Men? They are like a Santa Claus. So I prayed and I asked them; “I want only one thing with all my heart a doll with long hair”.

The night when the Wise Men were coming was so long and I didn’t want to go to sleep because I was waiting for the Wise Men. Later I fell asleep but I woke up as early as possible. I ran to the Christmas tree to get and comb my doll’s  hair but they didn’t bring me a doll with long hair, they brought me a bald doll. I started to cry and complain about it. “Why did the wise men bring me this bald doll? I promise!! I will never love and believe in them!! I will never forget this big pain in my heart when I got the bald doll. I was very angry and sad and I threw it over the roof. When my mother found out what I did she hit and scolded me and she yelled at me, “Why did you throw it over the roof? Tell me!” With tears in my eyes and broken a heart …. I asked her a question too, “why did the Wise Men bring the doll with long hair to my sisters but not me! Why”? I was crying and I hugged her legs, “please tell me”!!! but she never responded my question. Now I don’t know why she didn’t answer my question because now I know my parents are the Wise Men. Today I don’t have the courage to ask her why she did because she is old and I love her with all my heart.

Many years later, when I got married, I told my husband about it and one day he wanted to surprise me and he gave me a doll with long hair.  He broke my heart and I started to cry again because he made me remember bad memories. Years later, I am the happiest woman in the world because my dream has come true. When I was twenty five years old God gave me a real beautiful baby doll. I will never forget the day that I met her for the first time, I touch her little hands, her little body, her beautiful lips she was so cute and all of her was perfect and fragile. I couldn’t believe that she was a girl because I never knew it during my pregnancy. I started to cry but this time the happiest cry. I talk to her about my story and she knows that she is my beautiful DOLL WITH LONG HAIR.

By Elizabeth Perez

able to help others

I came to the library to learn English so I can communicate with more people and be open to more opportunities.  Before I started coming to the library, I wasn’t confident in myself.  However, after coming to the library for a few years, I’m not only confident in myself when I speak English but I’m able to help others who don’t know any English at all!  I hope to one day speak English fluently.  I am very thankful for my tutor, Cathy, because she has helped me a lot.

Blanca M.

helping one person


I am grateful with the Literacy Program because it has helped me learn more English and overall it is helping me obtain my GED.  Thank you to all the personnel and especially the volunteers!

Maria H.