A Membership Publication of ProLiteracy
104 Marcellus Street
Syracuse, NY 13204
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Permit No. 351
by Vanessa Caceres
San Diego resident Amelia Sandoval has not had an easy path in life.
When she started adult education classes about two years ago, her literacy skills were so low
that she could not take the TABE test. She was frustrated by her low skills, which made it
hard for her to complete accurate testing.
Previously, Sandoval had been incarcerated. She was not able to take literacy classes in prison,
but upon her release, she knew she wanted to go to school.
She has faced post-traumatic stress disorder and other health issues, including diabetes, a
heart attack in 2012, and a brief hospitalization in 2013.
After her heart attack, Sandoval, 33, thought, ‘I don’t want to die without my GED® certificate.’
As Sandoval took classes with San Diego Continuing Education, she eventually was able to
pass three of the five GED exams. Although her 2013 hospital stay hindered her attempts to
take the two remaining tests, she planned to finish by the end of 2013.
Now that her literacy skills have blossomed, so have Sandoval’s plans for her life. She uses phone
apps and electronic planning tools to assist with school and to get to appointments on time. She is
heavily involved as a volunteer with an annual comic book convention held in San Diego and was
able last year to take notes and assist VIPs.
Sandoval has a passion for animals and plans to attend a nearby community college’s veterinary
tech program. She spends time each week helping to rescue animals around San Diego.
San Diego Continuing Education resource teacher Marie Doerner says that Sandoval
continues to reframe her life so she can continue to attend school, despite her challenges.
“She’s touched the hearts of everybody here,” says Doerner.
Sandoval’s accomplishments have led her to appear in a promotional video for the San Diego
Council on Literacy. She also has had her writing published in WE LEARN’s journal,
and received a scholarship to present her writing at a WE LEARN
conference in Rhode Island. She was scheduled to appear on a panel discussion before the
mayor of Chula Vista.
Doerner nominated Sandoval for the 2013 Ruth C. Colvin and Frank C. Laubach Award for
Adult Learner Excellence. Sandoval won the award; the prize included covering her expenses
and registration fee to attend the USCAL conference just held in Washington, D.C.
Sandoval encourages other learners in similar situations to persist. “It doesn’t matter how
many times you fail. Everyone fails. Never give up,” she says.