News & Blog: Learner Stories


Chad Patton, Director of Customized Workplace English, interviewed Debra Hardiman about her experience in the adult reading and writing class at the Literacy Center. 

When Debra Hardiman called the Literacy Center to ask about joining a class, she had to build up the courage to make the call. “I had to take a deep breath before I called,” Debra said.

The class at the Literacy Center wasn’t Debra’s first adult education class. She had taken online courses at a few different sites, but they proved to be difficult.

“It was all on computers, and I didn’t know about computers, so I got lost on that,” Debra said. “When I heard about your program, it seemed like that would be it.”

Debra and classIt turns out that the Literacy Center’s class would be it for Debra, but it took some time. When she took her first test, she wanted to flip the table over and leave because the test made her so anxious.

Nonetheless, Debra persisted.

During the difficult times, Debra took inventory of why she was taking the class. “I promised my momma I was going to get a GED.” Even though Debra’s mother had passed away, she still sought to fulfill that promise. If not just for her mom, then for her daughter and grandchildren.

“I was tired of starting stuff and not finishing it,” Debra said. “[My daughter] knows how many times I get frustrated and quit, [but] we fight this thing together… I want to do this for my grandkids”

After Debra finished her first quarter with perfect attendance, the Literacy Center received an email from her daughter, Kim Starks. In it, Kim talked about how her mom had been wanting to return to school for the past 50 years, how she was afraid of being rejected from schools, and how Emilio Nieto, Debra’s instructor at the Literacy Center, accepted her and inspired her throughout her class.


Debra is proud to say that now she reads with her grandchildren, is reading better in church, and is more patient.

“[The class] changed my attitude and changed a lot in me,” Debra said. “I’m not afraid of constructive criticism… I don’t have that fear… I’m more patient now.”

For anyone who is on the fence about taking classes at the Literacy Center, Debra has this to say:

“I would let them know it’s really worth it, and the attention from a teacher is awesome. You can’t ask a computer nothing. Your class is like an open class like we are in school again… it’s a lot better. Every day you go to school, it’s uplifting. I look forward to it.”

Debra is excited to continue going to Emilio’s class when it starts again in the spring. She wants to keep her promise to her mother, and she wants to continue to continue learning with a group of people who have become like family to her.

To learn more about the Literacy Center's adult reading and writing class, email

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