23 countries of origin. 13 languages. 30 departments.

These numbers represent the vast diversity of the 117 MGH employees recognized June 2 at the Workplace Education Program’s (WEP) Celebration, which recognizes the achievements of the latest class of hardworking employees who completed English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and computer classes. The program – offered through the MGH and a partnership with JVS – provides these classes to employees wishing to improve their skills and expand their education.

“I was 18 years old when I came to America from El Salvador. I didn’t speak a word of English, but that didn’t stop me from trying to learn,” said Mavis Pellegrini of Patient Care Services. “I learned to speak enough to get by, but I wanted to learn more. Last year I was encouraged to take an English class at MGH. It is an excellent program that MGH has for people like me.”

Pellegrini was one of many participants who shared inspiring stories of their challenges and dreams at the ceremony. This also included Rosa Pineda, an office assistant in Research Management, who completed a computer class this year. “I am always looking for more opportunities to learn and develop new skills. I want to do my best in my job but I needed some help with the computer,” she said. “This class has helped me do my job better. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to accomplish your goals, just keep going. Don’t give up even if they seem too far away to reach.”

The WEP offers five levels of ESOL classes, three levels of computer classes and new this year they offered a morning ESOL class for those employees who work overnight. Kristen Schlapp, manager of WEP, presented certificates to each employee and recognized the impressive number of participants who had perfect or excellent attendance throughout the year.Twenty-two employees also earned their U.S. citizenship.

“Take today’s accomplishments as a stepping stone to a long and fruitful career,” said Awilda Lalande, operations manager in Patient Care Services and keynote speaker at the ceremony. She moved to Boston from Puerto Rico at the age of 3, has worked at the MGH for 15 years, and through continued determination and learning opportunities has worked her way up to become a manager. “By overcoming many challenges and obstacles, it has led me to make better choices. Is it a long road? Sure it is. Is it worth it? Absolutely. I am now able to say ‘I did it’ and I want to help all others be able to say ‘I did it’ too.”

Read more articles from the 06/23/17 Hotline issue.