Success Stories

brendaBreaking down the language barrier: Learning English challenges learners as well as instructors

Tess Townsend Roswell Daily Record Staff Writer


Brenda Villegas Gutierrez, 28, moved to Roswell from Cuauhtemoc, Mexico, 10 years ago to join her father who was working in the states and had just completed immigration paperwork for his children.


At the time, she spoke barely a word of English. “You feel, like, stupid when you go to any store and they ask you something and you don’t know what they say,” she says of her initial frustrations.


She quickly arranged for a tutor through the Roswell Literacy Council, a resource for learning literacy skills and English that she had heard about through friends and colleagues.


Gutierrez has since earned degrees in graphic design and pharmacy technology from Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell, as well as made marked gains in employment.


Gutierrez studied English intensively while working various jobs and moving throughout the western states.  Having planned on attending university in Mexico, she applied to ENMU-R a few years after beginning her language study and was rejected.  She enrolled in English language classes at a college in Colorado and eventually won acceptance to ENMU-R.


Gutierrez ultimately landed a job filling out tax paperwork and, later, worked in a Roswell pharmacy.  She was hired for the second job in part because the pharmacy needed an employee who could interface with Spanish-speaking clients.

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