Sonia Garcia moved to the United States from Guadalajara, Mexico, nearly three decades ago. She came to this country in search of a better life for her and her children. Back in Mexico, Sonia was the only one in her family to further her education. She studied accounting and worked for a construction material company for nearly a decade. Although she had a well-paying job, she decided to join her husband in California, because of the endless opportunities in the U.S.
For the past two and a half years, Sonia has been working for Northgate Markets. She started with the company as a cashier in 2020, and in only six months she was promoted to a backup customer service position.
Nearly a year later, she received another promotion and now serves as a customer service representative. “That’s what I like about the company,” Sonia remarked, “they don’t hold you back. If you have the drive to move up, they help you.”
Given Sonia’s lived experiences of working in the retail industry, she understands the importance of the English language in the workplace. Serving in a manager position, which is Sonia’s goal, requires constant communication with customers, coworkers, and supervisors. Sonia always aims to “make people feel at home. English is how I can communicate this feeling to them because it’s what we share.”
It helped me a lot, more than I can explain. I feel more confident in myself and comfortable speaking.
Sonia participated in the English at Work program in 2022. She is grateful for the lessons she learned and the opportunity Northgate Market gave her to grow through the EAW program.
Before the training, Sonia was scared to speak English and preferred speaking in Spanish when possible. But, little by little she started learning phrases and would practice speaking with her peers. The industry-specific interactions and intentional practice in the English at Work classroom helped Sonia build her confidence and allow her to freely express herself by expanding her vocabulary.
Going into English at Work, Sonia’s goal was to learn English so it wouldn’t stop her from moving up in the company.
She reached her goal and became an example to her peers. “I want to show all the people coming in as cashiers that they have opportunities to move up if they put in the effort,” said Sonia. Her hard work and determination got her to where she is today and now she feels prepared to apply for higher positions in her company in order to further grow her career. She eagerly awaits for Northgate Market to offer more English classes so she can continue learning and encourage her coworkers to enroll as well.
Hear Sonia’s remarks at her
English at Work graduation ceremony.
Sonia’s biggest motivation is her family. All three of her children have gone to college and made a career for themselves. This motivates her to learn and expand her education to better herself. “If I can do it, anyone can do it,” said Sonia. She wants everyone to know that opportunities are all around us, “you just have to go out and take them.”
The National Immigration Forum would like to thank Amanda Salazar, Business Engagement and Inclusion Programs Intern, for capturing this story.