A graduation ceremony at Napa Valley College celebrated the graduation of students in the English Literacy program, offered by the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation, in partnership with the Napa Valley College and Napa Valley Adult Education.

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The Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation celebrated the graduation of 70 students from the 2017 English Literacy Program at a ceremony, attended by family, friends, employers and fellow students at Napa Valley College.

This is the fourth graduating class from the program and by far the largest since its inception in 2013.

“The commitment we see from the farmworkers who participate in this course, and from their employers who encourage and compensate them for attending, is simply extraordinary,” said Arnulfo Solorio, chairman of the Farmworker Education Committee. “We believe that education is the key to success, but it’s not always an easy path. The dedication required to work full time, take care of their families, and attend a two-and-a-half hour class, two nights a week for an entire semester, requires courage, passion and determination. This is a huge accomplishment for each student, and we simply couldn’t be more proud of everyone.”

A handful of the advanced-level graduates started at the program’s beginning level, which required personal determination, a large time commitment and ongoing support from the people around them, including the instructors, Peggy Squires, Nieves Ochoa, Maria David, Maggie Kelly, Deb Grove and Liz McAdams.

“I had to take this opportunity to learn for myself. It went beyond going school to improve at work and became about my life and family. I got tired of asking people if they spoke Spanish – I had to start learning English. This has provided me with a better life, a better-quality life. I want to take math classes now – I want to keep learning,” said Silvia Ortiz who received his certificate of completion for the advance English Literacy Program.

In attendance were some of the graduates’ employers, who supported the graduates’ continuing education quest. In feedback to the Farmworker Foundation, nearly all the graduates’ employers plan to recognize this program completion through either a promotion, salary increase, bonus or company-wide recognition.

The Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation, in partnership with the Napa Valley College and Napa Valley Adult Education, offers three levels of courses: beginning, intermediate and advanced. The classes take place two days a week in St. Helena, Napa and American Canyon. The classes focus on building proficiency in conversational English, oral workplace communication, enhancing job-specific vocabulary for the vineyards, as well as grammar and written English conversations and basic computer skills.

To learn more about the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation English Literacy Program, visit online.

Founded by the Napa Valley Grapegrowers in 2011, the mission of the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation is to support and promote Napa Valley’s vineyard workers through education and professional development. To date, the Farmworker Foundation has offered education and professional development opportunities to more than 10,200 vineyard workers and their families.