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Native of Colombia Turns to ANU to Improve English Skills and Learn Business

Mar 31, 2015

John Marulanda is a student at the Roanoke Valley Campus who hails from Bogota, Colombia. He lived there all of his life until moving to Seattle, Washington in 2009. He was working there as an automotive technician and decided that he wanted to learn English to improve his career opportunities. He had friends who were attending another university in Virginia but knew that they were not happy with their choice, so he turned to the internet to find an institution in the same area that would better serve his needs. He saw a listing for American National University’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program and decided to make the move to Virginia, where he could be closer to his friends and attend the Roanoke Valley Campus.  


When John began the ESL program last summer, he was a level-3 English student. Through hard work and determination, he quickly advanced to level-6 and has now graduated from the ESL program and enrolled in the business administration course of study at the campus. He also reached another important milestone in his life, having become a U.S. citizen.  


John’s favorite thing about the Roanoke Valley Campus has been the instructors, particularly ESL instructor Elizabeth Johnson. “She is professional, she knows a lot, and she likes to teach international students,” said John. “She is passionate about it.” He added that the personal contact is what surprised him more than anything about the campus. He knew that he could come to anyone on the ESL staff – even after class – and they would be available and willing to help.  


Another aspect of John’s ESL education that made a positive impact on him was the cultural trips that he was able to participate in. ESL program coordinator Shereen Al Madhon is responsible for planning the trips to various cities that allow the students to immerse themselves in the American culture and improve their English skills even more. Due to his love of history, John’s favorite trip was to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where the students were able to visit a Civil War museum and the Gettysburg Battlefield. 


John excelled in his ESL program and is now enjoying the opportunity to use his improved English skills to further his educational goals in the business administration-management degree program. “There are a lot of opportunities,” John said regarding his American experience. “You can open a business here.” He plans to do just that. Once he completes his business degree, he hopes to open his own automobile service company. 


A- John Marulanda is a former ESL student and is now studying business administration with the goal of opening his own automobile service company.  


B- John (far right) participated in an ESL cultural immersion trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

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