Passaic County Woman to be honored at Literacy NJ Conference

Passaic County Woman to be honored at Literacy NJ Conference


EDISON – Gloria Orjuela of Clifton, NJ will be honored for her efforts to advance adult literacy at Literacy NJ’s annual conference on April 27.


Literacy NJ — which provides free adult literacy programs and U.S. citizenship classes in eight New Jersey counties — will present the award at its annual Literacy for Life Conference at The College of New Jersey in Ewing. The event brings together 200 students, tutors, adult educators and board members from across the state for a day of professional development.

Gloria Orjuela is a student at LVA Essex & Passaic Counties. She arrived in the U.S. with beginner English and, in her own words, progress hindered mostly by one factor: fear. There was the fear of asking for help, even for directions on the street; the distress of answering the telephone; and the everyday anxiety of knowing that someone might say something she didn’t understand, and react unkindly when she couldn’t respond. But much has changed for this Bogota, Colombia native since arriving in the states in 2017.

“We have seen Gloria grow and begin to carry herself with great confidence as she gets more comfortable with her English,” said Ellen Martin, recruitment & training coordinator for LVA. “She walks with pride into our office, managing everything each person on the staff throws at her at once.”

Gloria earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting in Colombia and became a budget coordinator, the third-highest position in a company of 5,000. A similar position in the U.S. requires a CPA designation, a difficult undertaking for most holders of accounting degrees earned overseas, but Gloria is determined to do whatever is required to resume her career.

Gloria has become an active volunteer and says as much as that helps others, it helps her more. She is able to communicate with her children’s’ teachers and is now a volunteer in their schools. Gloria is a group facilitator for LVA’s English-Spanish Language Exchange Program; she prepares and teaches lessons in Spanish and helps run the group. Gloria frequently appears as a speaker at tutor training workshops to ease the fears of new tutors. LVA counts on her to help retain their trainees. Her success at public speaking led to her being recruited to Toastmasters International.

Other honors at the conference include: the 2019 Volunteeer Excellence Award, which will be given to Elidema Mireles of LVA Cape Atlantic; Outstanding Affiliate, awarded to Literacy Volunteers of Pascack Valley, and the Literacy Champion Award, given to Anita Alvarado of Literacy NJ.

The Literacy for Life Conference features 22 workshops, including such topics as Fake News: Helping Students Find Credible News Sources, Using Free Technology to Increase Student Engagement, Making Math Second Nature, and presentations from Beyond Diversity Resource Center, USCIS, and Taft Communications.

The event runs from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Registration costs $60 for tutors, trainers, staff and board members of Literacy NJ-affiliated programs; $100 for nonmembers; and $30 for students. To register, visit http// or call 732-906-5456. Conference sponsors include Carpenter Contractor Trust, New Jersey Resources, Stark & Stark, Withum, OceanFirst Foundation, KML Regional Council of Carpenters, Maser Consulting, Middlesex County Democratic Organization, Taft Communications, and Wells Fargo.


Literacy NJ’s statewide network provides free instruction in reading, writing, math and speaking English to more than 5,700 adults each year throughout New Jersey. Founded in 1979, Literacy NJ and its affiliates engage, train and support 2,000 volunteers who offer these services, including one-to-one tutoring and classes in adult ESL, GED, and U.S. citizenship.

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