Erie House English as a Second Language (ESL) program graduate Beatriz Navarro has been selected as a winner of the Spotlight on Achievement Award from the Illinois Secretary of State’s office! 

Beatriz’s Story 

When Beatriz first joined Erie House’s ESL course about 10 years ago, she knew very little English and had few connections to resources or her community. She had recently moved to Chicago from Guadalajara, Mexico, and once here, often struggled to find the courage to venture out from her home.  

Beatriz learned about an organization a couple blocks from her home where she could receive the support she needed to succeed. In coming to Erie House, her goal was to improve her English so she could get a job and help her daughter with her schoolwork.  

Beatriz says: “I’m an empowered woman now that I speak English.” She became a volunteer art teacher at her daughter’s school and is a certified Zumba instructor, teaching in local elementary schools. Beatriz is also a skilled baker and now, a business owner, selling pound cakes, empanadas, cookies and more in local markets. Now, she’s in the process of opening up a storefront for her bakery: Butterfly Cookies. Why butterflies? “Butterflies are like freedom, and Monarch butterflies are migrants like me.”  

Giving Back as a Community Leader 

Beatriz has also become a confident leader, long ago overcoming her fear of leaving her home. She serves as President of Erie House’s Student Council, a liaison that connects the needs of our students with additional Erie House resources. She’s also very involved in her community. To help others improve their English, Beatriz has led trips to the local library to get library cards, and she facilitates a club to help beginning adult English learners communicate in real life situations. 

Beatriz (second row, left in red hat) with her classmates and volunteer ESL instructor.

Congratulations, Beatriz! This award is well-deserved!