Rocio Diaz Goshen College

Rocio Diaz

Director of Community Engagement and Adult Outreach — Goshen College

Published July 2023

Uniting, Empowering Through Language

When someone completes an adult education program somewhere, it’s usually not made into a very big deal.

But what I so often see is that when members of our Latino community get their certificate of completion from our English as a New Language program at Goshen College, and we have a graduation, it’s cause for huge celebration. There are pictures being taken, giant smiles all around on the faces of kids and family members—it’s a big deal.

It’s a big deal because it’s an accomplishment that represents achievement, and opportunity. You can just see, and hear, and feel the family pride of that accomplishment, and as the Director of Community Engagement and Adult Outreach at Goshen College it always gives me such joy to see this scenario play out so often.

In partnership with Horizon Education Alliance (HEA), we offer English classes in two different locations and schedules. Our English as a New Language classes have helped hundreds of working adults gain proficiency in English—and we’ve had some really great success stories come through our programs over the years.

We had a lady a few years ago who was so amazing and so dedicated—she would drive here for every class from Sturgis, Michigan. We had someone who got her certificate with us and rose to group leader at her factory job—HR would call her every time they needed someone to interpret. We had another student who learned with us and went on to pass a real estate exam and find a great career.

There have been many stories like those, and just the everyday confidence that’s developed by our adult learners—it’s substantial, and it’s so important for learning.

I think our programs at Goshen College are unique, and stand out, because we have dedicated, paid instructors who have a lot of teaching experience. We have great teachers, who are all there to help, and it all gives our students so much confidence to know they are getting great instruction.

Most people don’t know that we now also offer adult education Spanish Language Classes, and we’re seeing greater interest in this.

The Spanish classes range from beginner to conversational and are modeled on our English as a New Language classes. It says lot to me about the growth of this community that we have a segment of English-speaking people who are now curious, and making an effort to learn Spanish. I think it is such an encouraging development.

In some cases we have people wanting to learn Spanish for workplace reasons, but we have others who just want to learn it specifically so they can better communicate and connect with their friends and neighbors and fellow workers within the community.

I think that speaks to the spirit of Goshen, as a place, but it also speaks to the fact that language itself has the ability to empower and to unite.

It’s so very good to see so many people taking advantage of these programs we offer through Goshen College; the adult education programs we offer have the potential to further strengthen and unify this community, and we are seeing so many adults take that seriously.

It is truly rewarding.


To learn more about the adult education classes at Goshen College, contact Rocio at (574) 535-7808 or

Written by Jake Sandock