Erika Ruiz first learned about PUENTE Learning Center when she moved to Boyle Heights four years ago. Her new neighbors recommended PUENTE as a community resource and called it a “local gem.” She received so many recommendations about the school and its programs that she decided to check it out for herself. Erika enrolled her daughter, Valerie, in PUENTE’s preschool program in 2016 and the following year she enrolled herself in a Level 1 English as a Second Language (ESL) adult class. Erika wanted to learn English to improve her job opportunities and be more self-sufficient.

Today, Erika is a Level 6 ESL student completing her English acquisition studies, and she is also learning Computer Applications. Her daughter, Valerie, is excited about going into 2nd grade in August at PUENTE! Erika is a member of the PUENTE Advisory Council, a student-led committee that engages in fundraising, volunteering and advocating for all adult students at PUENTE. She is an active member of her community, too. Erika says that PUENTE has given her the necessary skills to be her best self.

Erika believes in the PUENTE mission and knows how important the services are to the community. She expresses gratitude that Boyle Heights has its “local gem” and acknowledges that not all neighborhoods have a place like PUENTE. Erika says she invites everyone she knows to come and experience PUENTE just as she did.