By Casey Murphy
Tyler Morning Telegraph, Texas.
Marseline Soto credits the Literacy Council of Tyler with changing her life.
A high school dropout, she started attending classes at the Literacy Council to earn her GED. She soon started teaching classes, volunteering to give back to the organization that showed her so much support.
Now, Mrs. Soto, 44, runs her own insurance business, Crystal Clear Insurance Agency, and recently received The Women-Owned Business of the Year Award from the Hispanic Business Alliance.
“It’s amazing because somebody is looking at you,” she said of receiving the award. “Not only are they looking at you because you’re successful, I feel like I now owe the community to do things right … to give the best service I can give.”
Mrs. Soto’s parents were from Monterrey, Mexico and moved as migrant workers to Indiana, where she was born. She was 10 when the family moved to Tyler. She dropped out of John Tyler High School because she was pregnant. She always had loved school and regretted not graduating, so 10 years later, she started taking classes at the Literacy Council to get her GED.
By then she had a second child and once her kids went off to school, she started working as a housekeeper and began volunteering at the Literacy Council to give back to the organization she said changed her life. At the time, Mrs. Soto was in an abusive relationship with her now ex-husband and would sneak out of the house to attend classes, then volunteer, at the Literacy Council, she said.
After volunteering there for a year — making copies and coffee, answering phones and doing anything that needed to be done — she was hired as an ESL instructor. After teaching for a year, she became coordinator of the program.