NORTH AURORA – When Thu Tran said that when she arrived in North Aurora in 2009 from Vietnam, she didn't even know enough English to order lunch at a Subway restaurant.
But thanks to Literacy Volunteers Fox Valley, she said her English is getting better and better. The St. Charles nonprofit organization provides free, one-to-one literacy tutoring to adults.
In recogntion of her efforts, Tran, 35, was one of 10 students statewide who recently received a 2014 Spotlight on Achievement award. The award was presented by Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White, along with Dennis DeRossett, executive director of the Illinois Press Association.
"I was very honored to meet them," Tran said. "I'm very appreciative of the honor."
Literacy Volunteers tutor Mary Sterner of St. Charles, who has been working with Tran for the last couple of months, also said she was proud of Tran's success. Tran's tutoring sessions have been held at Batavia Public Library and Messenger Public Library in North Aurora.
"I can't imagine going to a country and not knowing any of the language, and accomplishing as much as she has," Sterner said.
Tran's previous Literacy Volunteer tutor, Elaine Leist, helped her to become a U.S. citizen in 2010. Leist recently moved out of state. Tran said her improved English skills will help her immensely in her job. She works at Donna 1 Nails salon in Batavia, which is owned by her sister-in-law, Donna Nguyen.
"When I started there, I didn't know the language," Tran said. "I had to talk to the clients, and my sister-in-law was helping me."
Tran is the first student from Literacy Volunteers Fox Valley to receive a Spotlight on Achievement Award. Two of the organization's tutors in the past have received Spotlight on Service awards, said Peg Coker, Literacy Volunteers Fox Valley executive director.
"Our program revolves around the volunteers and the students," Coker said. "Their success is our success. We teach our volunteers as best we can. The lessons are all planned by tutors."
And thanks to Tran, the organization will be able to train more tutors. Tran is giving the $200 prize she won as part of the Spotlight on Achievement award to Literacy Volunteers Fox Valley.
"I want other students to have the same opportunities that I have had," Tran said.
Literacy Volunteers Fox Valley is is need of more volunteers tutor. More information is available by going to its website, www.lvfv.org.