News & Events

New grant gives gift of English language, career opportunities to Tufts Medical Center

By Rhonda Mann
Tufts Medical Center Staff

Bertha VelascoWhen Bertha Velasco immigrated to the United States from Ecuador, she hoped to continue the phlebotomy work she began in her native land. But she quickly learned she would need to better her communication skills. 

“For me it’s very important to speak English because I need to communicate with my coworkers and my supervisor,” said Bertha, who currently works as an Environmental Services Worker (EVS) at Tufts Medical Center. 

Bertha is one of 13 Tufts MC employees who recently graduated from the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course offered free for Tuft MC staff members. The course, run by the Asian American Civic Association (AACA) in partnership with Tufts MC Human Resources department, allows employees who work in areas from Environmental Services to Research to improve their English language skills, allowing them to better communicate with patients and their colleagues. 

“This is a beneficial program for those who have full-time jobs but who want to improve their English skills with limited time and money,” said Chris Meoli, program instructor at AACA. “During the program, students not only strengthen their communication skills, they develop self-assurance and a sense of pride.” 

Tufts MC was recently awarded a grant of more than $200,000 over three years from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Adult and Community Learning Services to expand the program. 

“This grant not only supports the operational costs of the classes, it also enables us to pay employees for 50% of their class time” said Ellen Hanson, Talent Acquisition Manager.  We are already underway with our second set of classes. We strive to offer different class schedules each session to accommodate employees who work various shifts.” 

“Finally, I can say ‘thank you so much’ to my teachers,” said Bertha, who says the classes have given her more confidence. “I also want to thank Tufts Medical center for giving me the opportunity to learn English here in my workplace. I hope to continue English classes next year.”  

Learn more by watching this video