AC student’s persistence in English as a Second Language leads to cash award

by Joe Wyatt
Published March 7, 2017

Even with two languages now at her disposal, Amarillo College student Leticia Szego (SAY-go) was rendered speechless upon learning she was the winner of an award for persistence in English as a Second Language (ESL).

And since the recognition was accompanied by a check for $500, who could really blame the business management major and native Uruguayan if her tongue was temporarily tied?

“I had no words,” said Leticia, who in February won an ESL Student Persistence Award from the Texas Association for Literacy and Adult Education (TALAE). “I was like ‘wow’ because it was magical, it was really happening and my emotions went from laughing to crying to smiling.”

Leticia, now a mother of two, was just 14 when her family moved from Uruguay to Florida. She dropped out of a Miami high school to help with the family business there. When the family moved to Amarillo, Leticia decided to pursue ESL classes and earn her GED at Amarillo College. She did just that and has since enrolled in business management classes at the College.

Her pathway to success was a perfect fit for the TALAE’s ESL Student Persistence Award, which goes to only one student annually in each region of the state – someone having “demonstrated exceptional determination through their effort, persistence, leadership, and community involvement.”

When AC conducted an Industry Showcase last fall for fellow adult learners, Leticia served as a guest speaker and shared the details of her journey through the ESL and GED processes.

“Leticia jumped out as an adult learner who fit the requirements of this award for persistence,” said Michelle Lamons, director of adult education and literacy instruction at AC. “She rapidly advanced in our ESL program and achieved her GED. She is well on her way to getting her intermediate certificate in business management.

“She’s like family here at AC, and she leads by example. We’re so happy she won.”

Leticia also has a noteworthy 3.6 grade point average so far at AC, an achievement leading to her recent nomination for inclusion in Alpha Beta Gamma, the international business honor society.

“I just want to keep moving forward, to go until I get my bachelor’s and master’s degrees,” Leticia said. “I want to set an example so my kids will follow the right path.”