People never stop learning, whether it’s discovering something new about a friend for the first time, reading an unknown word or hearing the latest topic in the news. A person constantly is taking in new information. Many people are oblivious to this continuous absorption of knowledge experienced every day.
Then there are people like Lourdes Sahagun, who not only are aware of it, but thirst for more.
Like many Amarillo College students, Sahagun got her start at Community Link, AC’s outreach program that assists nontraditional students in reaching their higher education goals. For her, those goals include obtaining her bachelor’s degree in sociology.
A native of Mexico, Sahagun first attended university classes in Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco, a Mexican state. She said in Guadalajara, many people go on to get a secondary education. She studied human resources and had only one year left in her studies before she moved to the United States.
Upon arriving in the United States, Sahagun settled in Los Angeles. She said that while there, she enjoyed using the basic English skills she had learned in Guadalajara to volunteer for the school district as a translator. She said she still has letters from the school district recognizing her contributions.
“I came here to make a life for myself,” Sahagun said. “But I didn’t want to abandon my studies, because I only had one year left. I didn’t want to lose my skills.”
After a year and a half she came to Amarillo, where she has lived for the past eight years. In 2007, she enrolled in an English-as-a-Second-Language class after hearing Maury Roman-Jordan speak at her church about Community Link.
“I was always a restless woman,” Sahagun said. “I said, ‘Why not?’”
Roman-Jordan said that after only one semester of ESL classes, Sahagun moved on to her next goal: obtaining her GED. Although she had taken university classes in Mexico, the material in some subjects, such as math, was much different.
“I never took algebra in Guadalajara,” she said, adding that she instead took financial mathematics.
With the help of Danette Fenstermaker, an instructor at Community Link, she was able not only to pass her algebra classes, but she scored 102 points on the math portion of her GED.
“Lourdes is an excellent student,” Fenstermaker said.
The feeling is mutual. Sahagun also described Fenstermaker as “excellent.” She said she is clear and direct in her teaching.
“She’s very intelligent, and she made me want algebra,” Sahagun said of Fenstermaker, “There are a lot of intelligent students, but it also depends on the teacher and if they can awaken that restlessness in you.”
Sahagun said she wants to do the same once she is a social worker. She said her goal is to help people find the skills that match their personalities.
She also enjoys encouraging and motivating them to be better, something she already has begun doing in her classes at Community Link and at AC.
“For some of the students in my classes, I think I have been like a mirror to the future for them,” she said. “They see in me their future. Like they can do all things. Like they can dream. They tell me, ‘I admire you. That you can do it. You got a better grade than me.’ It’s like, ‘If you can do it, I can do it.’”
Her children at home also benefit from her influence.
With her voice full of pride, she tells of the three: a 23-year-old son who is studying at AC to become a teacher and 10- and 11-year-old daughters who are students at Eastridge Elementary and Travis Middle schools.
All are A students. She said her daughters already are interested in attending AC.
Sahagun plans to graduate from AC this year and continue to a career. She said she’ll accomplish her dreams no matter what it takes.
But that won’t be the end of her education.
“When I finish, I want to continue learning,” she said. “Until I have no life left.”