When Gloria Orjuela left Colombia with her husband and daughter, she didn’t know she would end up in New Jersey. The trio emigrated to Canada and became a family of four there before moving again to the United States.
In Colombia, Orjuela earned a bachelor’s degree and had 12 years of experience in accounting. She also took English classes in her native country to help with the transition from Colombia to Canada. Once she moved to Calgary, Canada, she entered a government program that provided training and work placement. She became a financial accountant for a company there.
Six years after moving to Canada, her husband was offered a job in his field of electrical engineering in the United States. The couple made the decision to move once again and start a new chapter. Orjuela’s husband moved first and she followed 10 months later with their two daughters. The family currently resides in Bloomfield.
Once the move was complete, Orjuela went to the library to find adult education programs to improve her English and work toward getting a job in the United States. She found Literacy Volunteers of America and started an ESL program. She also participated in the Language Exchange program at the Bloomfield Library, which involves English-speakers who want to learn Spanish and Spanish-speakers who want to learn English. It was there she connected with Cristhian Barcelos, who serves as the executive director of LVA and the director of the New Community Adult Learning Center.
Orjuela enrolled in the GED class through the Adult Learning Center. Her goal is to get what she needs to work in accounting again.
“I want to improve my English and be able to know the style of education the United States has. With that, take the GED test and go to college and have other opportunities in my career,” she said.
Her experience at the Adult Learning Center was very positive.
“My teacher was so amazing. She was really professional,” Orjuela said. “She was not only teaching subjects, but she was teaching me how to have great emotional intelligence.”
Sometimes there are low expectations with community programs, but Orjuela said the Adult Learning Center offers quality education and she would recommend it.
“If you want to achieve more, be able to work as a team and help others, this is a fantastic opportunity,” she said.
Not only was she a student, but Orjuela also volunteers at the Adult Learning Center, doing general office work like answering phones, data entry and making labels. For her, it’s important to volunteer.
“You show your performance of work and you help people who need your help,” she said.
Barcelos is happy to have Orjuela as a volunteer. He said she’s always helping people, whether she’s doing office work, proctoring and timing exams or helping students who have fallen behind. He called her dependable, helpful and responsible.
“Everything she does is great,” he said. “She’s wonderful to have.”
Orjuela’s ultimate goal is to work in accounting again, but for now she wants to find a job, perhaps in finance. She is a Canadian citizen and is able to work in the United States through NAFTA.
She lives in Bloomfield with her husband and two daughters, ages 12 and 6.
She works hard at volunteering and learning as much as she can each day with the hopes of achieving her goals.
“The key to success is to do your best every single day,” she said.