Transformation Through Education
PALESTINE – Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in a day. But for Fausto Gante, that wasn’t a good enough excuse.
Determined to improve his life through education, the 36-year-old Mexico native easily recalls his hunger to learn the English language when he began English as a Second Language (ESL) classes a decade ago at Trinity Valley Community College’s Palestine campus. After returning home from work and then class, Gante said he would pour himself into a chair and begin reading page after page of the dictionary.
“When you’re in America, you have to speak English,” Gante said. “I just really wanted to speak English. I wanted it so bad. I was always learning words.”
Learning the language opened doors Gante said he never imagined he’d walk through. After working his way through the ESL program, Gante – who dropped out of high school in Mexico – said he was encouraged to pursue his General Educational Development degree. It was a significant commitment, as GED preparation course students meet four hours, four nights a week for four weeks.
Mike Murray, the program’s longtime instructor, said Gante was in class every night. Gante enrolled in his first prep course at the end of April 2012. By the beginning of October, he’d earned his GED.
“He’s the kind of person – his priorities are right,” Mr. Murray said. “He works hard and he’s trying to get his life in order. His experience kind of shows what is possible in this country. He basically came here with nothing, but now he’s taking care of business.”
Deb Murray, Mike’s wife and an ESL instructor at TVCC, said Gante’s transition into the GED program was facilitated by his growing confidence as he successfully grasped the English language. In addition to teaching English, the ESL program also helps students identify interests and goals – conversations that helped Gante along as he progressed through the system.
“As my students start learning and communicating better, you can just see that confidence start to grow,” Mrs. Murray said. “I think they start to realize all the things that are available to them, and Fausto is a great example of that.”
Gante didn’t stop moving ahead after obtaining his GED. Though he is working two jobs, he is enrolled in the welding program at the TVCC Workforce Education Center located at the old Palestine Mall. Once he finishes that program, he said he plans to enroll in other college classes.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen with my future,” he said, “but I know that if you want a better life, you’ve got to do something.”
Said Chris Hicks, TVCC’s Director of Adult Education: “Tenacity – he is the absolute definition of it. He just won’t quit.”