One Successful Step At A Time
ATHENS – This was a moment to savor, and Yanling McIlvain Qi knew who she wanted to celebrate with.
The 31-year-old business owner, who is working on her General Educational Development degree through the Adult Education department at Trinity Valley Community College, had just earned her U.S. citizenship. One of her first stops after taking her citizenship oath in March was TVCC, where she shared her news with classmates who, to varying degrees, understood the steps of her struggle and the sweetness of her latest victory.
“That inspiration was felt by all our students,” said Chris Hicks, TVCC’s Director of Adult Education, “and they celebrated together.”
McIlvain is a perfect example of how TVCC’s Adult Education is designed to work, providing training and preparation in a way that bridges students to the next level. A native of China, she came to TVCC with nothing more than a sixth-grade education and a desire to excel in America. That led her first to the English as a Second Language (ESL) program, which her husband helped her locate.
“When I came to this country, everything was difficult,” McIlvain said. “The most important thing is to know the language, and I knew if I didn’t learn English, I would not be able to know the culture and it would not be easy for me to live here. Since I began working with the Adult Education program, I can now communicate with anyone.”
Learning English – with its myriad homophones, grammar rules and slang terms – can be difficult. McIlvain said it took time and hard work through the ESL program to learn how to pronounce certain terms and understand the words being spoken to her. Her success depended in large part on her dedication to learning.
“She was one of those students you could tell was highly motivated,” said Natalie Brown, who teaches ESL/Civics for TVCC Adult Education. “You can tell she worked on it outside class and didn’t lose her focus.”
McIlvain, who sells merchandise in different markets around the area, said her success in the ESL program has helped greatly with her business. “I can now communicate with my customers and they understand me a lot better than before. For this reason, my business is getting better,” she said.
She is now working her way through the GED program, which offers the flexibility for students to learn at their own pace. GED preparation courses are offered for four hours, four nights a week for four weeks. Hicks says McIlvain, who is working her way through instructor Austin Irigo’s prep class, is well on her way to obtaining her GED.
“Our instructors are amazing. As educators, they face the challenges of maintaining up-to-date knowledge of research on adult learning instructional strategies,” Hicks said. “Professional development opportunities are available throughout the year and they are first to sign up. Our instructors invest a great deal of time developing their skills. As a result, the students, the program and the community benefit greatly. If we can move students closer to their goals, we’ve made a positive impact on their lives.”
For more information about TVCC’s Adult Education program, call 903-675-6398 or visit www.tvcc.edu/adult-education.