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Ivonne Romero, a third-year Microbiology major from Bakersfield, CA, believes that “if we have the...

Project SPELL Volunteer Spotlight: Ivonne Romero

March 11th, 2016

Ivonne Romero, a third-year Microbiology major from Bakersfield, CA, believes that “if we have the ability to help others, then we should.” As a Project SPELL tutor and Student Committee of Project SPELL Vice President, Ivonne lives this motto every day by tutoring a UCLA employee in English as a Second Language.

Ivonne joined Project SPELL in the Fall of 2014. As a member of a family with non-native English speakers, she understands the hardships of adults who have trouble communicating in English. “My parents immigrated to the U.S in the mid-1990s not knowing a word of English, yet they managed to establish their lives here amidst an entirely new culture. They both struggled throughout their lives solely due to the fact that they could not communicate with others. Knowing that our learners face the same challenge inspired me to become a resource to help them achieve their goals of improving their English – something I wish my parents had the chance to do.”

Ivonne has grown attached to Project SPELL after being involved in the program for over a year. She feels tutoring is an amazing service to the UCLA employees who work hard to keep the campus the dynamic place it is. “Each learner I have tutored has a unique story that drove them to the U.S. to create a new beginning for their families. The desire to learn English amidst the many other responsibilities the adult learners hold shows how much of a strong resolve they have as individuals. I greatly admire our learners for their eagerness in wanting to learn new things, not just about English, but also about certain aspects of the American culture.”

Ivonne currently tutors Elizabeth Sanchez de Filiano, a Cafe 1919 Food Service Worker. To Ivonne, Elizabeth is nothing short of inspiring. Born and raised in Colima, Mexico, she has lived in the United States with her husband and son for nearly 10 years. With the help of Ivonne, she intends to develop better communication skills and improve her work conversations. Elizabeth hopes to apply to the Housing & Hospitality Services mentoring program and one day hold a position in an office. Elizabeth is grateful for Project SPELL because it helps her develop her English speaking skills and prepare her for future jobs. Surely, the two will continue to develop a strong and amicable relationship as they work together to achieve Elizabeth’s goals.

In addition to tutoring, Ivonne also holds the position of Vice President of the Student Committee of Project SPELL (SCOPS). As the Vice President, she coordinates SCOPS meetings and plans weekly meetings and social events for all tutors. Ivonne decided to join the Student Committee because she deeply connects with the program and wanted to incorporate new ideas. Ivonne is also looking forward to the next academic year, when she will take on a new role as Student Committee President.

Additionally, Ivonne volunteers with Project WILD, where she works with children, helping them improve their writing and reading comprehension skills. Being bilingual in English and Spanish helps her traverse the language barrier and assist the students who have difficulty navigating between the two languages.

Ivonne’s dedication to service makes her a great role model for the Bruin community. Thank you, Ivonne, for all that you do!

About the Author

Izzy Villagomez is a fourth-year Sociology major and Disability Studies minor who has been volunteering with Project SPELL since Fall 2014. One of her passions is inclusive education towards individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In addition to Project SPELL, Izzy enjoys volunteering with several organizations that focus on children, teaching, education and disability studies. She is an active member and director for Best Buddies, which promotes friendships with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Amigos de UCLA, which provides educational enrichment to elementary and middle school children, and UniCamp, UCLA’s largest student-run charity organization that inspires 1,200 children from low-income families to envision brighter futures through the experience of an outdoor summer camp.

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