Student Stories: Irma Gutierrez

IrmaIrma Gutierrez 


Irma Gutierrez is devoted to education and self-improvement. She has studied continuously at various DACE schools since 1994. Why does she love studying so much? “Learning is life,” Irma says. “Knowledge is power, the power to do things.” Taking adult education classes has taught her many new skills and given her a better life. “I love coming to school. It keeps me motivated.”


When she came to the U.S. from Mexico D.F. in 1990, Irma started working as a housekeeper, but didn’t know any English: “Everyone speaks English, so I had to learn.” She began ESL classes at Jordan-Locke Community Adult School. She continued studying English over the years at other schools, including Maxine Waters (where she took Reading classes taught by LATC’s current Principal, Ms. Beard) and LATC. “My English is not 100%, but I’ve learned a lot of things, especially vocabulary,” she adds. “Now I can understand and communicate with people.”


Along with ESL, Irma has completed many Academic and Career Technical Education classes. She earned a HiSET certificate and needs four classes to complete her high school diploma. She has also taken numerous CTE courses, including Computer Operations, Building & Grounds Worker, Child Development, Construction, and Automotive Technology. 


Why has she taken so many classes? She says studying has benefited her in every way, in both her work and personal life. 


For example, Irma is currently taking a Construction course. She lives in an old house, and the class has helped her spot things that are in need of repair or replacement, such as a leaky sink, a medicine cabinet, or her garage roof. “I want to learn how to fix things in my own house,” she says. The Construction class has given her useful knowledge “so that people cannot take advantage of me, because I know how a job should be done.” 


Irma can now do some home repairs by herself. “Before, I was afraid to use a ladder. Now I know how to do it safely, and I feel more comfortable.” In the future, she hopes to build a small apartment in her garage, and she knows the laws and permits required to complete the project. The knowledge gained in her Construction course has saved her valuable time and money, as well as increased her self-confidence.


Irma has gained other useful skills by taking Automotive classes at LATC. She can perform basic car maintenance, such as changing the air filters. She also knows how to jump-start her car, so she’s not afraid if it stalls. “You need to know the positive and the negative,” she observes, “just like life.”


Irma has no plans to stop coming to LATC. Attending adult school has helped her improve her English, learn numerous practical skills, and made her a more humane, caring individual. “I study,” she says with a warm smile, “to make a better person of Irma.” And when she sees a fellow student in the lunch area, she likes to reach out and motivate them. “Yeah, you can do it,” she says. “I like to inspire other people to study and learn something new.”