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Joses DeMoranville

“My GED was something I really wanted
even though I didn’t think I could ever get it.”

Click here to read Joses' story.

Joses DeMoranville is a 50-year-old U.S. born man.  As the third born child out of 28 siblings, DeMoranville grew up in extreme poverty.  DeMoranville’s impoverished situation forced him to drop out of school in the third grade, when he was living on the streets.  After dealing with drugs, alcohol and homelessness, DeMoranville’s 12-Step Program sponsor took him to a literacy program in 1992, after discovering that DeMoranville could not read. 

After a successful experience with the Palm Beach Library Literacy Program, DeMoranville attended Leon County Schools Adult and Community Education Program when he relocated to Tallahassee where obtained his GED in three months.  “I had that gift of desperation.  It was something I really wanted even though I didn’t think I could ever get it,” said DeMoranville.

These days, DeMoranville lives with his wife in Jacksonville.  He has a certificate in architectural drafting and owns his own business.  DeMoranville, a passionate advocate for adult literacy; is a volunteer with Learn to Read Jacksonville. 

Words of Encouragement: Don’t give up because the miracle at the end is beyond your wildest dreams.  Your life can be your wildest dreams.  You can be anything that you want to be.  The only thing that stands in your way is yourself.  Don’t short change yourself.  If I can do it, anybody can do it.


Maria Segura

“Going to school is your success."

Click here to read Maria's story.

Maria Segura is a 39-year-old native of Mexico.  She left school in the tenth grade, after getting married.  Segura worked in the fields with her family to make a living.  After fainting one day while packing tomatoes, she said, “I don’t want to spend the rest of my life working in the fields, migrating from place to place.”  She wanted a better life and a way to help her children, but she needed a program that would provide free childcare.  Segura then learned about the Jump Start Family Literacy Program. Her son Anthony was three years old at the time, and Jump Start gave them the opportunity to learn together.  “I could stand up and look over the divider and I could see him, and then I would get back to my studies,” said Segura.   

When Anthony saw his mother learning, he would get excited.  “He was saying, ‘Mommy, you’re reading a book!’”  Segura said.  Her son’s passion motivated her even more, and despite resistance from her family, Segura successfully obtained her GED in seven months.  She now works at Jump Start Family Literacy program as the lead teacher.  Segura plans to seek a bachelor’s degree, but currently she is helping her children attend college.

Words of Encouragement: Open up a book and open the doors of opportunity.  Going to school is your success.


Noriko Tilley

“Stay with the program, why quit?"

Click here to read Noriko's story.

Noriko Tilley is a 44-year-old Japanese born woman.  Tilley graduated from high school in Japan and spent two years learning English and German at a vocational school.  In 1988, Tilley married an American air force officer and they moved back and forth several times between Japan and the United States.  During that period, Tilley and her husband had two children. 

While her children were at school, Tilley would shop with friends and maintain her home.  Twenty years after she graduated from vocational school, Tilley decided she wanted more from her life.  She enrolled in Oskaloosa-Walton Community College’s ESOL class and then at the recommendation of her instructor, she took a GED class and passed the examination just after two months. 

Tilley went full circle from student to teacher; she now works at the college as an advanced level accounting tutor and adult education proctor.    

Words of Encouragement: Stay with the program, why quit.  Set your goal and why quit.  I’m sure there are some people who want to come, but they can’t.  They have to work or something, but if they can, if they have time to stay home then why not?  Come to the great program and study.


Tonya Blanton

“I knew in myself that I could do it,
but I just needed to know how.”

Click here to read Tonya's story.

A 30-year-old U.S. born woman, Tonya Blanton was the oldest child in her middle-class family.  During Blanton’s childhood, her family moved more than five times.  In second grade, Blanton’s school diagnosed her with a learning disability in math and reading.  Blanton’s second grade teacher told her family, “Tonya will never do anything, because she is too slow.”  In eleventh grade, Blanton dropped out of school.  “Because of my learning disability, I was pretty much kept in the same class.  I was really not able to go anywhere and I got tired of it,” Blanton said.  “But I knew in myself that I could do it, but I just needed to know how.”

After a few unsuccessful attempts at a small adult education program, Blanton got married and had two children.  She worked at a gas station where, she said, “they don’t really see you as a human, they see you as someone who can work three shifts.”  Blanton tried adult education again in part when she realized she could not help her third grade daughter with her homework. 

After starting at North Florida Community College (NFCC), Blanton obtained her GED in five months.  Her teachers saw in her an innate ability to help other students and encouraged her to become a teacher.  Blanton now works as a teacher’s aide for the Adult Education Department of North Florida Community College and in 2006 won the NFCC “Student of the Year” award.   

Words of Encouragement: Whatever obstacles they find in life, if you can’t push through them, you can’t go over them, you can’t go under them then try to find a way around them. 

Monica Baxley

“The one thing I say to some of the people is
‘if I can do it anybody can’.”

Click here to read Monica's story.

Monica Baxley is a 45-year-old native of Florida who dropped out of school in the ninth grade.  As a child, she had a learning disability that her school did not suitably address, leading to her having very limited literacy skills as an adult.

After a series of uncomfortable and unsuccessful adult education classroom experiences, Baxley was motivated to return to adult education at the Literacy Volunteers of Washington County (LVWC) to help her only child with homework.  LVWC appealed to Baxley because of its one-on-one format, thereby allowing her to keep her limited reading ability under wraps.  Baxley obtained her GED within eight months of starting at LVWC and now speaks out freely about her experience in hopes of encouraging others to go back to school.  “I speak to anybody that will listen to me about literacy,” said Baxley.

Currently, Baxley is a volunteer teacher with the Country Oaks Learning Center in Washington County.  She is also a literacy ambassador and student advocate, serving on the Board of Directors for the Florida Literacy Coalition and VALUE, a national organization of adult learners. She has helped three people get their GEDs and in 2004, received the Florida Literacy Coalition’s “Flight for Freedom: Outstanding Student Achievement” award.    

Words of Encouragement: There are no barriers you cannot get through and there really is the help out there.  If you are willing to do it there really are people out there to help you reach your goals.  The one thing I say to some of the people is “if I can do it anybody can.”

Laura Calderon

“Don't give up."

Click here to read Laura's story.

Laura Calderon’s family moved from Mexico to the United States when she was in eighth grade.  Her family was very poor and, as the oldest child, she dropped out of school as a young teenager to work in the fields to help support her family.  She worked in the fields for five years; during this time, she married and had a daughter.
Her daughter and husband were the main motivators for Calderon to enter into adult education.  Calderon’s husband would read to their daughter every night and encouraged Calderon to go back to school to provide a better life for their daughter.  Due to their support, Calderon and her daughter joined the Glades Tri-City Family Education Center an initiative of the Palm Beach County Literacy Coalition.  In less than three years, Laura progressed through more than eight grade levels and received her GED.

After Calderon obtained her GED, she became an AmeriCorps volunteer for two years at the Glades Family Education Center.  At the end of her service, she received an education award, and is currently using that money to take college courses.  The recipient of the 2005 Susan Green Award, a national student recognition award, Calderon currently is a day instructor in the Glades program, while pursuing a career as a teacher. 

Calderon is an active literacy ambassador, regularly accepting speaking engagements to promote and support literacy.  In 2003, she was a featured speaker at the Florida Celebration of Literacy Event, sharing the stage with President George H.W. Bush, Barbara Bush and Governor Jeb Bush.

Words of Encouragement: Just work hard and don’t give up because every goal that we set is not going to be easy to achieve but we have to work hard and study hard and do our best and the goal will come.


Gaudalupe Lamas

“For the first time, I think, in my life I realized
that I was capable of maybe even more.”

Click here to read Guadalupe's story.

Guadalupe Lamas is a 46-year-old native of Mexico, the firstborn child into a migrant farm working family. Due to this, she had to leave school in the sixth grade to take care of her seven younger siblings.  The next time she entered school again, Lamas was married and pregnant with her second child; she enrolled in an adult education program at her job site, sponsored by the Hillsborough County Adult Migrant Program.  The promise of a stipend initially motivated Lamas to participate. 

After Lamas realized that getting an education was possible, she followed her dream to make a better life for her children.  “For the first time, I think, in my life I realized that I was capable of maybe even more,” Lamas said.  Within about six weeks, Lamas obtained her GED and she continued to pursue her education.  Lamas attended Hillsborough Community College to seek a career as a nurse; she eventually earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.

Now Lamas is a registered nurse and an adult education instructor teaching certified nurse assistant classes in her community.  She is also an advocate on issues that affect the migrant farm worker community.

Words of Encouragement:   To let them know that they can do it too.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist and that everybody has the same mental capabilities, it’s just how you develop it that matters and I don’t know how you would say it, I’m not that good at ad campaigns or that sort of thing, I’m not that creative but I do know that they don’t know, because I know that I didn’t know.


Ubirathan Miranda

“Never give up. Never give up.Never give up.”

Click here to read Ubirathan's story.

Ubirathan “Ubi” Miranda is a 32-year-old Brazilian born man who dropped out of high school after immigrating to Florida.  Health problems, immigration concerns and racism at his school all factored into reasons why Miranda left school before graduation.  Miranda immigrated to the United States with his family when he was in fifth grade.  He was actually in the fifth grade for three years, but because his family moved so frequently: he never got a chance to complete it. 

After a series of dead end jobs Miranda came to the realization that getting an education was key to building a better life. He enrolled in night classes at East Area Adult High School and obtained his GED in two months, working during the day and attending class in the evening. 

At present, Miranda is a network manager at Auburndale high school and he teaches ESOL to students at the East Area Adult High School, the program where he got his start.  He obtained his B.A. in theology, graduating from Life Christian University and then went on to obtain his M.B.A.  Miranda lives in Winter Haven with his wife and two children. 

Words of Encouragement: I really would like to echo, prime minister, Winston Churchill’s commencement address, I believe it was at Harbor at the closing of World War II he just said simply, never give up.  Something to that effect, never give up, never give up, never give up, never give up, never give up.

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for making this site possible.

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