Opening The Drawer

Adult Education

“I was a teacher back in Mexico,” says Estela. “When I got here I didn’t have papers. I didn’t want to stay here. I always wanted to go back. I applied to many jobs and the first thing they always said was ‘You have to show your papers’.”

“I did work. I cleaned houses, I babysat — I worked all of the jobs, but not what I liked. So I said ‘I’m going to put my education in a drawer and close that drawer.”

“I knew I could go back to Portland Community College and take the classes for my GED. For different reasons I didn’t do it. I said maybe next year, maybe later, and I didn’t do it. So, because of that I stayed home for a long time. I’m not rich, but I have everything I need, so I said ‘Okay, I’m going to stay home and take care of the kids and see what happens. One day I’m going to go and get my GED’.”

Thirty years went by.

One day, Estela heard about our Adult Education Program and that the program was expanding to a second location: Barnes Elementary School. This made our program available to women in the Beaverton area for the first time, as many of the women we serve don’t have a driver license and therefore can’t easily travel to Hillsboro, where our other Adult Education location is.

“I decided to enroll in the program to get more education and then to get my GED — that’s my goal.”

“I’m going to do it. I think I’m going to be ready this year. If not — I waited thirty years to do this. Thirty years. I can wait for another year. I’ve already passed my language arts test.”


“I think it’s important to educate yourself. It you don’t educate yourself, you aren’t going to be a leader or be empowered.”

“This program — I think it opened the drawer again.”

Estela has a goal of finishing her GED this spring. Her dream is to work at a school as a teacher’s aid and then work her way up to a teacher.

Education truly changes everything. Too many women have had to put their education in a drawer. At Adelante Mujeres, we will keep working to open each and every one of them.

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