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I am often amazed by the students who come to Literacy Services. I’m struck by a variety of qualities: dedication, humility, humor, curiosity. Mostly, I’m struck by how hard they work. The successful students make gains, increase their literacy levels, and achieve all kinds of accomplishments. When things get challenging, those students work harder. When things get difficult, they work harder. They try harder. A quality they possess is persistence. Persistence enables them to keep trying, even when they are not successful. When they fail, persistence makes them try again. The student that I chose to write about for this issue of the newsletter has shown more persistence than anyone I have ever met in my life. I’d like to share her story, but I need to give a little background information first.

Some of the students who come to our English Language Learning program ask for help in preparing for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) test. The TOEFL is a challenging exam for international students who want to enter a university in the United States. Students are tested in reading and comprehension, in writing, in speaking and in listening. They have to prove through the TOEFL test that they have the English skills necessary to manage university level classes. It’s a tough exam.

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The student I’m writing about, Myunghee Jun, knows success, but she also knows failure. She has tried for years to pass the TOEFL test. Her first attempts occurred long before she found Literacy Services. Myunghee Jun is not only a registered nurse in her home country of South Korea, she has a doctorate in nursing and has taught at the university level there for several years. When she came to the United States, she took the TOEFL test and failed. She studied some more and tried again. She failed it again. She kept trying, and she kept testing, and she kept failing. She took the TOEFL test nine times.

At the end of last September, Myunghee walked into our classroom and told us she passed the TOEFL test on her tenth attempt. Then she told me how grateful she was to Literacy Services. She told me, person by person, how each of her tutors had helped her, how each one very specifically worked in different ways with her to approach that test. She told me what we did for her.

I’m going to tell you what she does for us. Myunghee inspires us: her tenacity, her persistence, her hope. She gives hope to all of us. She keeps us going. I am very honored that I have been able to witness her success. Moreover, I’m grateful that I can be inspired by someone who has such incredible strength and persistence.

Julie Clark

Director of English Language Learning