Maria Valencia Rojas is a member of the maintenance team at Whole Foods in White Plains, NY. For the past 8 years, she has been tasked with cleaning the aisles, offices, break room, locker area, restrooms and the dining area. At all times, she carries around a pager that tells her where in the store she’s needed to clean. “I spend a lot of time on the floor, and I get questions from customers very often. I always try my best to help them find what they’re looking for”. Maria thoroughly enjoys interacting with customers, but sometimes she has to politely apologize for not being able to understand them.
Maria is a participant in Skills and Opportunity for the New American Workforce and is attending a contextualized English language class offered by her employer at Westchester Community College. “I’ve had limited opportunities to learn English, so I taught myself. Since I started this class, I realized that I was pronouncing many words wrong and was speaking in the present tense about things I did in the past,” Maria told us, while sharing her excitement about discovering verbs in the past tense. She is originally from Colombia, and a native Spanish speaker.
Maria hopes to strengthen her English so she can better communicate with customers or even move to a customer service position in the future. “Whole Foods really cares about their team members and I am very grateful to them for this opportunity to improve myself,” she said.
For more student profiles and testimonials on Skills and Opportunity for the New American Workforce, please click here.
Skills and Opportunity for the New American Workforce is a project of the National Immigration Forum, funded by the Walmart Foundation, in partnership with Miami Dade College and the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education.