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MY LACC STORY

LACC Scenes
   
MY LACC STORY by Michelle M. Hilario  
Alumna Michelle Hilario

Over ten years ago, I dropped out of college in my native country of Peru and decided to move to the U.S. in pursuit of the American dream. After working for a few years in unfulfilling jobs, I realized the importance of having a career and a job that can make me truly happy. I would frequently drive by LACC on my way home from work, and I’d say to myself, “One day, one day…” Finally, I got the courage to stop by and enroll, and in 2010 I began my two-year journey at LACC. My tenure at LACC helped me not only to develop strong academic and critical thinking skills, but also to gain the confidence and determination necessary to continue on my educational path.

Being an ESL student who decided to major in English was truly challenging. I initially wanted to major in Applied Linguistics because I wanted to be an ESL teacher. However, when I started taking English courses at LACC I fell in love with literature. My professors taught me that reading great works of literature was not only about reflecting on my feelings, my actions, and myself, but also about understanding other people, viewing the world from different perspectives, and thinking critically about our actions in society. I also discovered that reading literature helped me to improve my English language skills, which is why I encourage all my students to constantly read.

In addition to helping me find my true passion, my professors at LACC guided me and helped me build a strong academic foundation that allowed for a smooth transition to UCLA. When I transferred to UCLA, I felt so confident that I never doubted my capabilities as a student. In fact, I did so well that I graduated cum laude with a major in English and a minor in Applied Linguistics. I believe that what helped me the most at LACC was the accessibility of my professors and the individual attention that I received from them. They were always available during their office hours, in person or by email, to respond to my questions and concerns.

Today

I successfully graduated from UCLA in June 2014, and I’m pursuing a M.A. degree in TESOL at CSULA. My ultimate goal is to be an ESL and English teacher for adult students in a community college and to provide the same quality education that I acquired at LACC.

Right now I am working as a mentor and tutor in the English Department at LACC, where I am able not only to help students improve their English language skills, but also to guide them towards their academic and professional goals. I am grateful for the opportunity to work in the place where I started my education.

My experience as an ESL student at LACC is hardly unique, as many students on campus are new to the U.S. and attempting to learn the language. My advice to any new ESL student at LACC is to start at level one, even if they know ‘some’ English. Working patiently, but diligently, starting from the lower levels will help them gain confidence as they advance. Students should also take advantage of all the resources available in the ESL/English Department, such as the labs and tutoring. And they should also read a lot! They shouldn’t limit themselves to reading the assigned course material, but also focus on other books, short stories, magazines, and even blogs! And finally, since shyness is common in new language learners, they should always keep in mind that everyone attending LACC is there to learn. Therefore, they should always try to speak English, inside and outside the classroom, because that is the best way to improve their linguistic and communicative competence.