When he was 21, Jose Luis Lopez made a decision that changed his life: he moved to the United States. He did it because he wanted a different life and because he was pushed by a motivation to “salir adelante” (move forward). He set many goals for himself, and 36 years later, he tells me that he has accomplished every one of them, even some that he did not foresee achieving.
A special source of pride for him is his daughter who is training to be a surgeon. He now has new goals on the horizon.
Jose Luis has always had a fond attachment to bread and says, “bakery is my life and bread is life.” At 14 he was already helping in his family’s bakery in Jalisco, Mexico. Such dedication to breadmaking has followed him since. When he first arrived in the U.S., Jose Luis took a job at Superior Grocers as a baker. He remained there until 2001, when he and his family moved to Nevada to open up their own house cleaning business. But in 2021, he returned to California and resumed his work at Superior as a Bakery Assistant, a position he still holds today.
He recognizes the need to speak English at his job in order to communicate effectively with clients, supervisors, managers and other coworkers. He recognizes the need to speak English at his job in order to communicate effectively with clients, supervisors, managers and other coworkers. He sees this need as even more pressing when he is asked to translate for other colleagues. Of notable help to Jose Luis’ day-to-day was the program’s contextualized approach to English learning, focused on customer service and engagement with coworkers. He feels more confident speaking and understanding, applying what the class taught him about tone and connecting with others even when encountering other non-native English speakers with varied accents. Satisfied with the classes, he speaks proudly about his learning experience to his colleagues.
Though he mentions he’s still developing his computer skills, Jose Luis greatly appreciated that the classes were offered online. Decades ago, when he tried to attend English classes in person, he found it difficult to be consistent due to work commitments. English at Work was very convenient for him to attend, even after a long day at work. It was nice to be able to go home to his wife and children and still be able to participate in and complete an English class.
English at Work was of immense value to me.
It fills Jose Luis with immense pride and motivation to know that his desire for growing and learning has been recognized by his superiors, and that he has been offered opportunities to continue to do just that. The English at Work training has been a stepping stone for the journey he’s about to begin through the RISE UP credentialing program offered by the National Retail Federation for individuals seeking advancement in the retail industry. He begins classes in January 2023. Another goal he will, without a doubt, reach!
Jose Luis is hopeful about his future, and knows that time will bring new opportunities, perhaps in managerial or supervisory positions. He knows that English at Work and RISE UP are all leading to that. He will be ready when those opportunities for promotion come, and he is grateful for everyone who has been supporting him on his journey.
The National Immigration Forum would like to thank Betty Ruiz, Business Engagement and Inclusion Programs Intern, for capturing this story.