Stories of Excellence
|It’s a fulfilling thing to know that I am helping them achieve their goals in life.|
What started out as a class assignment has blossomed into a labor of love for Angela Elfgren, a graduate of Central Community College.
After transferring to the University of Nebraska-Kearney from CCC, Elfgren had to do a project outside of her field of study, which is early childhood education. She was sent to CCC’s Kearney Center to work in adult education. Because there were not a lot of students in the program at the Kearney Center, Elfgren was sent to the Lexington Center where she worked two days per week in GED classes and three days in the English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. At first, Elfgren merely wanted to see how the classes ran, but in doing so, it triggered something bigger.
“I got to talking with some of the students and I was really interested and intrigued by their willingness to learn our language and overcome some of those language barriers that they have in their life,” said Elfgren. “It’s a fulfilling thing to know that I am helping them achieve their goals in life.”
Six months went by when Marilynn Hersh, adult education coordinator for the Lexington Center, approached Elfgren and asked if she was interested in working in both areas on a part-time basis. She agreed and has been there ever since.
There are two sides to Elfgren’s fulfillment. On the GED side, she enjoys helping adults work through the obstacles and barriers that hold them back from achieving their educational goals.
“On the ESL side of it, I work with a lot of mothers and a lot of fathers and they’re very hard-working people and they just want to be successful,” said Elfgren. “They want to be able to go out in the community to meet people and communicate with them. They come back to me and say, ‘I had a conversation with a cashier at Walmart,’ and it’s so fulfilling for them to be able to tell you that they are doing it.”
When asked about the most inspiring student she has helped, Elfgren tells of a woman who has seven children, all of whom still live in her native Sudan. The woman works the night shift, comes to ESL class at 9 a.m., goes home at 11:30 to take a nap, and returns to work at 2 p.m. Elfgren’s student wants to get her GED and eventually wants to be a nurse so that when her family joins her, she can support them.
“To see that drive in somebody is very inspiring for me,” said Elfgren. “To be able to help her is why I come to work every day because there are adults out there with these barriers that they just need a little bit of guidance to get through it.”
Elfgren’s story is inspiring as well. In addition to working at the Lexington Center, she transports her three children all about, is the head volleyball coach at Amherst High School, plays volleyball and softball, and remains on track to graduate from UNK in the spring. Elfgren also enjoys reading fantasy novels.
“It takes me out of my element for 20 minutes a day and then I get back to daily life,” said Elfgren.