Dear Reader,

The State Collaborative Literacy Council of California is pleased to share with you this publication, In My Own Words: The Personal Stories of California's Outstanding Adult Learners of 1996.

In these pages you will find the true, heartwarming stories of ten outstanding California men and women who exemplify the thousands of adults who work daily in literacy programs throughout the state to expand and enhance their futures through literacy education. These are adults who seek to change their lives and the lives of those around them through their personal commitment to the improvement of their own basic literacy skills and to lifelong learning.

It is not easy to be an adult with limited literacy in a society that expects, even demands, a high level of literacy. Many of this year's learners overcame tremendous personal and family hardships to participate in adult basic education and literacy programs. With only their own perseverance and determination and the help of dedicated adult education teachers and literacy volunteer tutors, they were able to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds in order to achieve their personal and educational goals.

We applaud the courage of these ten adult learners and of all those adults in our state who come forward to seek and receive literacy help. May these stories serve as a catalyst to others in need of literacy improvement to work toward their full potential and toward becoming more effective and productive family members, workers, citizens and lifelong learners.

It is my hope that this publication will also encourage each of you to become more involved in education and to promote educational achievement at all levels for all of California's adults and children. As these stories clearly illustrate, the road to literacy may be hard and the journey difficult, but the rewards for a successful trip are great and every success impacts our state and thus each of us individually.

Let us all work together toward making every adult in California with low literacy skills a future California Outstanding Adult Learner.

Rita Cepeda, Vice Chancellor of
California Community Colleges and
1996 Chair of the State Collaborative Literacy Council