Juan Jose Mayo Quintero fled Venezuela for the United States because political persecution meant his life was in danger. He held a degree in Business Administration, but his lack of English language skills limited his job opportunities in the U.S. He worked first as a hotel housekeeper, then moved into tree work and landscaping. “I didn’t even know how to get a burger or a hot dog,” he remembers.
In 2018, Juan Jose enrolled at Literacy for Life and was matched with tutor Karen Logan. She remembers him seeming quiet and shy, not to mention exhausted from his long, arduous work days. Progress felt slow. However, once he identified a specific goal—obtaining his Commercial Driver’s License—he became highly focused and motivated. Karen remembers, “I could sense he was fully immersing himself in English: listening to English during the week, watching YouTube videos, and engaging in conversation. His progress multiplied!” Karen sought support from LFL staff and shifted the focus of their lessons from general English to CDL preparation. They spent most of their time on the advanced vocabulary he would need to complete a CDL course and pass the licensing exam.
When the LFL offices closed due to the pandemic, the pair hardly missed a beat and began meeting online. Eleven months later, in February 2021, Juan Jose attended a CDL training course. He passed the course and exam, and as of March 2, he is a Class A Commercial Driver. “With Class A, I can drive any kind of trucks,” he says.
Juan Jose’s immediate plans are to join a friend’s small trucking company, but he has big dreams for his future. Ultimately, armed with his business degree, his Class A CDL, and his now-excellent command of English, he hopes to start his own business one day, with his own fleet of trucks.
Karen could not be more pleased for Juan. “He has accomplished so much! He should feel very proud of himself; I certainly am!” Meanwhile, Juan Jose is grateful. “When I started, I didn’t understand anything,” he remembers, “but Karen was very patient. She’s a beautiful person. She’s not only my tutor, she’s my friend.”