By Angelita Martorell, GED Student
I am a 40-year-old single mother of two young men who was born and raised in Hartford, CT. I am the younger of two girls. My father brought my mother from Puerto Rico to Hartford in the late 1950’s. He abandoned our family, but my mother was a strong woman. She didn’t know any English, but learned indirectly through my sister and me. She spoke to us in Spanish and we responded in English. Although she had graduated from high school in Puerto Rico, the language barrier made things a little difficult for her here in CT. She eventually went back to school in the early 80’s and earned a pre-GED certificate that I still have at home.
As a young adult, I was responsible for babysitting my older sisters’ children and had a lot of household responsibilities. Because of this, I dropped out of school in the 11th grade. I had my first son, Danny, when I was 18 years old. Six years later I had my second son, Tony.
My mother passed away in 2003. This is when I began to feel the need to go back to school. I felt as if I had no one to count on and alone. My mother was the one who helped me with my children and was my support. I knew that I needed to improve my reading and writing skills in order to further my life. I felt intimidated and unprepared when completing applications. I didn’t know how to help my children with their homework.
In 2004 I began my attempts to go back to school. I felt lost. I was afraid to ask questions for fear of being laughed at. I lasted for two months. My oldest son would take care of his brother. It wasn’t easy. I attempted to go back in 2006, but my mother’s absence in my life was more pressing than anything else.
In 2010, I returned to school at Literacy Volunteers of Greater Hartford. I needed their help with reading, grammar and math. I am still there. I feel more confident as an individual. I am not afraid to read out loud. Everyone is treated equally. I am constantly writing and brainstorming my thoughts and ideas. I also enrolled in Hartford Adult Education in 2011. I am being tutored in math to get into the National External Diploma Program. I want to better myself and become a Social Worker. I am a community advocate and feel the importance to be educated about my community to bring about change. I have 12 certificates and have gone to trainings that have helped me develop this interest. Presently I am enrolled in a family advocate and youth mentor program. These trainings coupled with my pursuit of an education have helped me become a stronger and more confident woman and mother. By my example, I am influencing my youngest son to go back to college and value the importance of an education.