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Student Success Story: Edy Vasquez

Student Success Story: Edy Vasquez


San Mateo Adult School Student Edy Vasquez was nominated for the COABE National Adult Learner Award.  COABE is the abbreviation for Coalition for Adult Basic Education.  Edy will be featured in the COABE National Educate and Elevate Campaign.  

Edy is from Guatemala.  He started English Classes at the Low Intermediate Level in May 2019.  He has served the SMAS Community as a Student Ambassador, Census Ambassador, Hot Meal Service Ambassador, and Green Team Member.  In addition to his studies and volunteering, he works full time. 


I asked Edy to share more about his story: 

How long have you lived in the US?  


I arrived in the United States on January 21, 2007.  I lived 8 months in California and I went to the state of Florida. A while later, I returned to California. 

How did you find out about San Mateo Adult School?


I tried to study several times but I did not get a chance and I decided to try one last time, I called Sequoia Adult School but the classes filled up quickly. They did not save space and since the school is small, I did not enter anymore.  With great disappointment, I thought that I would not study any more, but the school secretary mentioned the school of Palo Alto and San Mateo. I opted for the school of San Mateo. When I arrived at the school of San Mateo, I loved it and they gave me the opportunity to study. And I do not want to miss it and thank you for these opportunities.

Tell us about learning English at San Mateo Adult School.


I studied with Miss Lilly and Houry - but I didn't pass the test so I repeated the same level with Miss Jean and Deep.   After Miss Deep and Jean, I passed the test so I went to High Intermediate and when I went to High Intermediate, I felt it was easy for me. I spent one month there and it felt easy to me. After,one month, it still happened so I talked to Miss Tamra if I can go to the next level - to Low Advanced.  I was waiting for my CASAS test to see if I can promote or not - because it’s one thing to think and it’s another thing to see or not. After my test, my score went from 225 to 237 so I talked to Miss Tamra if she can do something to raise me to Low Advanced. She said, “You may be ready for High Advanced.”  She talked to Patricia and she made a little test - and I was ready for High Advanced. But when I got my CASAS score, I talked to Miss Carlota and she made another appointment for another test - for pre-GED. So I went for that test on Feb 26. I wasn’t sure bec I was feeling like it was too high. My score on the PreGED test was 230.  Mr Beall said that for pre-GED, it’s 231, but for one point, “I think you can advance.”


What is your advice for a new student?


Study hard. Anything you are learning, try to use it anywhere. It's not only at school.  We can come to school for two or three hours daily to learn a language but we need practice, too. Most of the students come to school and they're only listening to what the teacher is saying. But the time for students to practice is short. It's maybe five minutes, because there are so many students. So the best way to learn and practice is join programs that the school has for students and you become confident to practice out of the school- at work or try to buy your supplies using your English. The brain kind of holds any new words if you use it. The brain loses it if you don't practice.  


What methods do you use to improve your English outside of school?


Most of the stuff I use is on Youtube.  It's a good tool for learning. You can speed it up or slow it down.  Sometimes I do it slower or faster. And of course, movies, music.


Audiobooks -- When I go to sleep, I put the audiobooks on and I leave it on.  It plays while I sleep. It plays for a while. My brain is kind of listening while I sleep.  I don't know if I recommend it to students but that's how i did it. Maybe for some people it's not the best method. Sometimes while you dream in English, it's part of your learning, don't be afraid. Your brain is holding the new language you've been practicing. It's kind of a drama but in English.   


Also application - Duolingo, Rivet for reading, Newsela. I didn't know about it, but Miss Deep has a program that she calls MEE so I joined the program and I found Newsela and I started reading it. Also I use Burlington, Libri box- an app for audio books. 


When I work - I can listen with my earphones - and repeat. I try to use all the tools I can. 

I don’t use English at work or at home. Only at school and with my phone.  Pretty much I think in English.


For eight months, I have been trying to learn another language  -- using English as my own language. I’m learning Japanese with Duolingo and Youtube.  It’s an amazing tool. I use Youtube for anything.


And of course, the programs we have here, like Green Team, Hot Meal Service, and Student Ambassadors.  It’s a lot of things I'm doing to learn English - not only one. I try to push myself the hardest I can.   The resources are here.  


I appreciate what  the school does for me. It helps a lot with my education that means a lot thank you.   I want to say thank you to all the members of San Mateo Adult School, all classmates and friends. I have been enjoying every single day at school.  SMAS has the best staff members I have ever met. I wish the best and keep doing a wonderful job you're the best THANK YOU VERY MUCH.


When Edy was honored by flagpole on the evening of March 11th, he reminded everyone: 


“Everybody can do it.  Just push yourself! We learn English in school but really it’s for outside our school - our families and work.  So practice. Push yourself!”  


Great advice - especially now while we shelter at home! And thank you to Edy for sharing his story and advice with us.


Here are some of the things SMAS Staff members have said about Edy:


“Yay! Edy! He is such a hardworking and dedicated Student Ambassador, he has also participated in our Job Shadowing program. He has assisted Gloria in the evening at the the front desk during break time when it is really busy and Gloria is by herself.”  - Tia Marlowe

“Even though Edy joined the Student Ambassador Program no so long ago (Spring 2019), he became a very active SA right away and got up to 30 hours of volunteering up to this day.  He is a very responsible and reliable SA.” - Marina Kravtsova


Edy is the engine behind the Evening Green Team.  His willingness to pitch in, his energy, his interest in finding projects and approaches that include and draw others in - it’s made all the difference.  He is a powerhouse for people and planet.” - Cynthia Eagleton


“Edy is a wonderful person  - selfless, caring and a giver. As a learner in the MEE program, he has taken initiative to keep up with his work, and is motivated to improve his English. He wants to work in a forensic lab someday. He is just as motivated to contribute to his community, and is very proud of being part of the Green Team. He deserves this nomination.”  - Deep Bhullar