Continuing Education (Noncredit Programs)
For my family, the American Dream began in Chicago, Illinois in September, 1979 when we moved to this country. I remember the struggles that my parents faced as they were trying to adapt to this new culture. As a child, I would play the role of “ESL Teacher” so that I can help my parents improve their English skills.
I have always been fascinated with meeting and learning about people from various cultures. One summer while I was working on my Bachelor’s Degree in Education, I served as a volunteer ESL Teacher in Armenia. That experience verified my decision of wanting to teach. After graduation, I worked as a first grade teacher for five years. Even though I loved working with young students, I would always remember my experience working with ESL adults in Armenia and hoped to one day have that opportunity again.
In September 2005, I got married to a wonderful man and moved to Los Angeles.
I decided that this was a perfect opportunity to finally pursue my dream of becoming an ESL Teacher. I enrolled as a student in the Linguistics/TESOL Master of Arts program at California State University Northridge, from which I graduated in May, 2008.
It has been a pleasure working as an ESL Instructor at Los Angeles Valley College. Even though I am the instructor, I find myself learning something new every day due to the fact that I get the chance to meet people from all over the world. I hope to inspire my students as much as they inspire me. I realize that learning a new language is not an easy task; thus, I hope to make the experience as comfortable and fun for all of my students.
After graduating high school I attended Los Angeles Valley College and majored in Liberal Arts. My goal was to become an elementary school teacher. While attending college, I worked as a teacher’s assistant at Erwin Street Elementary School. In this capacity, I was assigned to work with second graders. After three years of working, and enjoying every minute of it, the principal offered me a position as an Early Childhood Associate with the Hand-in-Hand program which was funded by the State. This job gave me the opportunity to work with children individually.
After leaving Erwin Street Elementary School, I received my Associate of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts from Los Angeles Valley College and transferred to California State University, Northridge (CSUN) and majored in Sociology (Social Welfare). At the same time I applied for a job at Los Angeles Valley College CalWORKs program. This program introduced me to new opportunities for advancement.
On May 2003, I graduated from CSUN with a bachelor’s degree in social welfare. Immediately after that, I became a Program Specialist at Los Angeles Valley College. This new position opened a variety of opportunities and experiences. As a result, I decided to continue my education in a master’s degree program in Public Administration.
Currently, I work at the Continuing Education Department as an instructor of Computer Technology in the Workplace. I enjoy working with people from different cultures and backgrounds. Determination, Perseverance, and the desire to learn new things have challenged me to complete the Master’s in Public Administration Program at CSUN.
My mother always said that I was born with a book in my hands. Ever since I remember, I loved education. When I was only three years old, I begged my parents to send me to the country school with my older brother who at that time was in first grade. After a lot of convincing, the teacher accepted me in her class and let me borrow one of her books to take home. I still recall the very distinct smell of that book and the brilliant yellows of its cover. I learned to read and write using that precious book. With constant use, it was all worn out. I recollect feeling very embarrassed when I returned it to my dear teacher. Soon after that, I went to live with my aunt in Bogota to finish my education, but I returned every summer vacation to my first school to teach the children how to read and write.
One day, I decided to come to the United States on vacation. It was such a good experience that I decided to stay and go to school to learn English. My first formal English classes were at Los Angeles Mission College where I had very dedicated teachers who guided me into the Credit Program. I graduated with an Associate degree in Spanish and Child Development. Then, I transferred to California State Northridge to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies and Spanish and a Master’s degree in Bilingual Bicultural Education with a TESOL component. I taught Spanish at California State Northridge. I also taught subjects such as Chicano Studies, English as a Second Language, Literacy for adults, and Computers at the college level.
I am very proud to have worked with specially funded programs, such as Career Pathways and Women in Construction. Also, I directed the Literacy in the Native Language Program during the Amnesty days and the Bilingual Expressway Project which helped foreign professionals to integrate into the United States job market. Now, I am very fortunate to work with the Continuing Education Program at Los Angeles Valley College in the capacity of Community Liaison and ESL instructor. Throughout my career in education, my students have given me great satisfactions when I see them achieving their goals. I think the best way to summarize the way I feel about my career is to use a quote from the very famous motivational speaker Les Brown, “Help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours.”
I was born in Santa Ana, El Salvador. I share my story with thousands of Central Americans who were forced to migrate due to one of the bloodiest civil wars in the history of Latin America
I took ESL classes at Abraham Freeman Occupational Center in downtown, Los Angeles and soon developed an interest for English grammar. In the spring of 2000, after two years of ESL, I graduated and also earned a GED diploma.
In the fall of 2000, I started attending Santa Monica College to work on an Associate Degree. It was at SMC where I developed a vast appetite for first and second language acquisition.
Then, in 2005, I transferred to The California State University at Northridge to begin working on my BA in Linguistics. While attending CSUN, I began working as an ESL tutor at Los Angeles Mission College, which triggered my passion for teaching ESL. In 2007, I graduated from CSUN with a BA in Linguistics and two minors: TESL and Central American Studies. In 2007, I began teaching ESL at Los Angeles Valley College. Currently, I also teach ESL at College of the Canyons.
Eventually I would like to earn my Masters from UCLA. I would also like to work with the Indigenous communities of Central America to research more in-depth the Nahualt language of El Salvador.
Teaching ESL is my life. I struggled learning English, adapting to a new culture and new ethos. Therefore, my mission is not only to walk into a classroom and facilitate second language acquisition but also to share my story with those who have also struggled finding a voice of their own in a new country.
One of the most vivid memories of my childhood is the little library in my hometown in Armenia where I loved to spend hours and hours looking through books and magazines. Later, throughout my school years, our family lived in two other countries, and, along with learning English, I also learned Russian and Ukrainian languages and found a great pleasure in reading books in these languages. I remember very well the excitement of going to a new library and discovering new authors and books in my new languages.
By the time I graduated from high school and was admitted to university I knew that books and languages were my passion and I had to choose a profession that would allow me to share my passion with others and help them discover the wonderful world of learning a new language. This is why I decided to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in English and Russian with an emphasis on teaching these languages to speakers of other languages. In 2006 I also received a California Teaching Credential and a Certificate of Teaching English as a Second Language. Another year later, in 2007, I graduated from California State University, Northridge with a Master of Arts degree in Linguistics. Both my undergraduate and graduate diplomas are distinguished with honor thanks to my passion for books and education, hard work and the constant support of my family.
My own diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds have initiated my interest towards world cultures and languages and a desire to learn about them through direct communication and research. I’m glad that teaching at Los Angeles Valley College gives me the opportunity to communicate with people from various backgrounds because along with teaching I also learn from them and share experiences with them. I’m also glad that the educational and career path I once chose has enabled me to have this wonderful profession today. I strongly encourage all my current and future students to pursue education and make their dreams come true, since a teacher’s best reward is students’ success.
Coming from an immigrant family, who migrated from Armenia, I know how hard it is to learn a new language and to find necessary resources to survive in a new country. Growing up and dealing with all the barriers that my family and I faced when we first relocated, made me develop an interest of helping people who are trying to adapt to changes and who are from different cultures. After finishing high school, I attended Valley College where professors gave me the confidence to move forward in reaching my dreams. I graduated with an Associate in Arts Degree in Office Administration and transferred to California State University of Northridge majoring in Sociology. During my studies at the university, I started working at Los Angeles Valley College as a tutor. I earned my Bachelors of Arts Degree in Sociology and just recently finished my Masters Degree in Public Administration.
Currently, I am working as a Citizenship/ESL Program Specialist and as an ESL Civics Instructor. Throughout the last twelve years I have held various positions at Los Angeles Valley College, ranging from student tutor, to program specialist and instructor.
Throughout all my education and work experience the focus of my attention was not just to learn how to help community members, but also educate people about the importance of education in their lives.
My father once told me the more we have the more responsibility we have to share. Those words, combined with my artist mother’s penchant for the obscure, have inspired me to develop a classroom that facilitates not only learning, but creativity and the confidence to dream.
My fascination for words led me to a B.A. in English at the University of Florida, an education I partially funded by slinging orange pie in a Micanopy eatery. The Yearling restaurant was known more for its alligator fritters, but waiting tables in a restaurant named after a Pulitzer Prize winning novel made the poor tips and queasy fare more palatable.
After graduating, I stoked my curiosity about people by earning an M.A. in sociology. I scored a job in a secured psychiatric facility (prison) as a Behavioral Program Specialist (I served chow). Behind those walls, I found people whose problems were worse than anything I could ever complain about. I gave them my ear and drank in their stories. At the time, I was also making extra money as a basketball referee. One day, a fan told me I seemed like a straight shooter and would I like to give teaching a try? I said I had neither a credential nor any relevant experience. He said I was hired.
An “at-risk” program for Gainesville middle schoolers was my home for the next several years. On the first day, they told me the predicted dropout rate for these students was 100 percent. Those were odds I refused to believe. We didn’t move mountains in that classroom, but we sure tried. I did however write a grant to fund publication of a journal of student fiction. What my students may have lacked in formal writing ability they more than made up for with stories that contained enough heart to fill a thousand volumes.
I eventually left Gainesville for Los Angeles in search new challenges. Suddenly everyone around me spoke Spanish and I didn’t know how to say Hola. Fueled by my desire to actually interact with my fellow Angelinos, I had the wild idea to travel to Spain and enroll in a Spanish immersion class. In Barcelona I discovered that learning another language wasn’t about words; it was about opening doors to the rest of the world. Motivated by my experience, I vowed that when I returned home I would dedicate myself to returning the favor. Los Angeles is a city rich with people and cultures. I’m humbled to have the opportunity to help even one person open one door.
Learning for me began in June, 1988, when I stepped onto the Butte Community College Campus in Oroville, California. I didn’t know then that I would develop a love for language. Like many of my students at Los Angeles Valley College, all I did know was that there was a place for me in education and it was my responsibility to find it. In a short time, I had an Associates Degree in Liberal Studies, a wedding ring on my finger, and enough gas money to drive down I-101 to the University of California at Santa Barbara where I would begin my study of English Literature and Mandarin.
After my first year at UCSB, I was so taken with the Chinese language that I took a summer off work and went to study in an intensive language program at Tsing Hua University, Beijing, in the People’s Republic of China. I returned from abroad and set into my studies vigorously. I graduated from the University of California Santa Barbara on December 14, 1996.
Soon after leaving Santa Barbara, I chose to attend graduate school at Mills College in Oakland, California. I was impressed with the rigorous literature program and also the fact that there were so many visiting writers at Mills. I jumped at the opportunity to work with and know the writers that produced the literature that I loved. At Mills, I was immersed in the writing culture and came to understand it as a vital part of our world community as a whole. I received an MFA in English and Creative Writing from Mills College on May 15, 1999.
The students at Los Angeles Valley College have given and continue to give me the opportunity to share and pass on the gift of language. Each semester brings a fresh group of students who will temper and forge the skills of writing and language and use them to change not only themselves but the world around them. I am so grateful to have the joy of knowing these amazing people.
Recently I retuned to school after a four year absence, this time as a post baccalaureate in the TESL, Education program at California State University, Northridge. While studying for my certificate there, my son Aidan Quilici arrived.
This is what I thought I knew.
Education is finite. It’s not. If the seed is planted correctly, we never stop learning. Whether it’s through the knowing eyes of sixty ESL students all with individual hopes and dreams, built on the promise of a new country and life, or from the wondrous eyes of my now two-year-old son brimming with possibility, we never stop learning. If I can instill this idea in my students, then I feel my time at Valley College has been well spent.
Growing up on the west side of Los Angeles, I always thoroughly enjoyed the French and Spanish classes I took in junior high and high school. I loved the atmosphere and content of my foreign language classes so much that I believed I’d eventually become a foreign language instructor. I set a personal goal of becoming trilingual and went to France in 1986 to work as an au-pair to improve my fluency in French.
After France, I travelled to Israel where I volunteered on a kibbutz and peeled onions and other vegetables for 6 hours a day. Before coming home to finish my B.A. in cultural anthropology at UCLA, I visited a number of other countries. It was in Turkey and the Czech Republic that I learned how incredibly hungry people were to learn English. Deeply impressed by what I had seen and learned abroad, I decided to pursue a master’s degree at UCLA in applied linguistics and teaching English as a second language.
I have taught E.S.L. for credit at Santa Monica College, Loyola University, Cal State University Northridge, Los Angeles City College and West Coast University. I have also taught non-credit ESL in adult education settings as well as in private language schools. In the summers I often teach at UCLA Extension.
I enjoy teaching entry level ESL in the Continuing Education Department at Valley College. I am impressed with how hard the students in this program work to learn English quickly despite the many challenges they face while acclimating to their new country. My students help me to understand and appreciate the difficulties my own mother and grandparents encountered when they arrived in the U.S. as refugees. And my memories of my own experiences as a foreigner abroad help me to empathize with my students.
When I am not teaching, I am probably listening to National Public Radio and taking care of my husband and two daughters. My secret fantasy is to resurrect my garage band and to write more songs.
Most of my adult life has been spent studying, writing and teaching English.
I was brought up in New Jersey, where I attended Rutgers University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa as an English Major. Hoping to teach English as a career, I continued on to graduate school, earning a Master's Degree in Drama from the University of Essex in England, and a second Master's Degree in English from the University of Chicago. But while in graduate school, my interests shifted from studying English to writing it and, after an apprenticeship in New York, I moved to Los Angeles and began writing television scripts for shows like "Cosby", "Newhart", "Benson" and "Golden Girls", as well as producing series for Norman Lear and Mary Tyler Moore. In time, however, as my affection for Hollywood waned and its affection for me disappeared, my interests returned to teaching. After earning a certification from U.C.L.A., I began working as an ESL instructor for LAUSD. And now, after a three-year hiatus, I am back at Valley College to resume my first love--teaching.
For me, teaching is a Promethean endeavor, bringing the fire of knowledge to people who can then go off and forge their own, better lives. Learning English is difficult, but the rewards are incalculable, and I am grateful for the opportunity to help so many good, motivated students.
Language is the most fascinating peculiarity of the human species. Words, carefully crafted, can help us express our deepest feelings, describe our experiences, analyze our values, and manifest our visions. As speakers and writers, we constantly seek to improve our communication with others. I believe this pursuit is not only a vital part of any academic career, but an essential component in our personal development.
I grew up with books. Reading and writing were always a pleasure for me. I began writing poetry, short stories and songs at a young age, and my sisters and I loved to write and perform vaudevillian variety shows for my parents in the living room - often posting construction paper and crayon flyers with the curtain time on the kitchen door.
At thirteen, I began my first attempt at Conversation Analysis when I started charting and diagramming the humorous exchanges at the bus stop among my schoolmates. When I later discovered that this bizarre practice was actually part of a scientific field, I knew Linguistics was for me. At Los Angles Valley College I received the support and educational foundation to transfer to California State University, Northridge where I received a B.A. in Linguistics in June 2005. At CSUN I worked with international students in the Intensive English Program, designing and teaching five week courses in TOEFL speaking and university matriculation. The excitement and gratification of this experience inspired me to continue my studies in ESL. After I received my TESL certification, I traveled to Cuzco, Peru, where I lived and taught English for three months. I am currently pursuing an M.A. in TESL (Teaching English as a Second/Subsequent Language) at California State University, Northridge.
Beginning a new life in a new country can be a daunting adventure. Learning a new language as an adult requires both personal determination and a welcoming classroom environment. Teaching ESL at Valley College is about much more than just grammar, pronunciation and punctuation. Although these are essential, the classroom provides the opportunity to find common ground, to share goals, to laugh together and learn about the world through our experiences, and to encourage eachother to chase our dreams. I am honored to be a part of this adventure.