The Storehouse Community Center celebrates graduation of ESL courses

Photo courtesy of The Storehouse.
Nine Academy graduates also received modern automotive service and repair certificates after a six-week course with Collin College.

The Storehouse Community Center, formerly known as The Storehouse of Collin County, celebrated a graduation this weekend for 11 individuals who completed all six levels of ESL courses that the nonprofit’s educational program, The Academy, offers. Another 137 students received certificates for completing a level of ESL, advancing them to the next level.

“Today is a historic day for The Academy as we recognize 11 students who have completed their ESL journeys, graduating from all six levels of the program,” said Ligia Urrego, director of The Academy. “Many began their studies with The Academy when it first opened in the summer of 2022. All our ESL students, many of whom work multiple jobs, have demonstrated incredible dedication, coming each Saturday morning for four hours during multiple 12-week course semesters. Today represents extraordinary effort and achievement by each Academy student, and we are so proud of them.”

The 157 graduates heard words from volunteer teacher Jim Hess at the graduation.

“This last semester was my fourth time teaching, and I have never done anything more rewarding,” said Jim Hess. “Your dedication, commitment, and smiles every Saturday are so inspiring and make each volunteer excited to teach you. You have faced so many challenges beginning with leaving your home countries to provide a better life for your families. Living in Texas you could have gotten by without learning English, but you faced the challenge and are to be congratulated. We have accomplished so much, including improving your pronunciation, expanding your vocabulary, and mastering challenging English grammar rules, and we could not be prouder of you.”

Some of the students also received their modern automotive service and repair certificates for completing a six-week course held in partnership with Collin College. Others, like Mario Lisena, are employed by Storehouse partners like Hilti in apprenticeships.

“Today we completed our goal. But the journey is not over. It was a long journey that for some began in May 2022,” said Lisena. “Everything in life requires effort. You cannot wait for God to do all the work, but each person must take on effort to obtain what they are wanting for. Knowledge will become our hope to survive and adapt in this country. Without it we are nothing, and we cannot be a part of the equation. As the Chinese proverb says, ‘Give me a fish, and we will eat today. Teach me how to fish, and we will eat the rest of our lives.’”

CORRECTION: A correction was made on May 31 at 7:00 p.m. that corrected this article from an original version that incorrectly stated the number of graduates. 

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