The University of New Mexico-Los Alamos (UNM-LA) welcomed Naly Ramirez Aponte as the new program manager for the Adult Learning Center at the beginning of August this year.

Originally from Bucaramanga, Colombia, Ramirez Aponte moved to New Mexico in 2008 and graduated from the University of New Mexico (UNM) in Albuquerque with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish & Linguistics.

Naly Ramirez Aponte
Naly Ramirez Aponte
Paulina Gwaltney Photography

Over the past 12 years, Ramirez Aponte has worked as an English as a Second Language and Spanish as a Second Language teacher. She worked in different institutions, including UNM-LA, and was the owner of Naly Ramírez - Se Habla Español, an educational institute that offered private and small group Spanish lessons in Los Alamos, N.M. 

“Naly brings a wealth of experience teaching English as a Second Language and embodies the successes that can accrue to those who learn English in the US context. She’s a role model for her students. She has incredible ideas for building the whole Adult Education program, and we were very lucky to get her for this role,” said UNM-LA’s Dean of Instruction, Paul Allen.

UNM-LA’s Adult Learning Center is offering free English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and New Mexico High School Equivalency (HSE) prep classes. The classes have rolling enrollment, which allows students to join the class at any time during the session, making it easier to work around schedules.

English as a Second Language classes are for students 16 years and older and are designed to benefit anyone wishing to improve their English language skills. Because the sessions are multi-level, students often continue for several sessions to further improve their English language skills.

"It’s fun to communicate with various people using English. By taking the class, I was able to speak and listen to English little by little" commented ESL student Megumi Yamamoto.

"Thanks to the ESL classes I was able to get a job as a teacher assistant. I also enrolled in an Early Childhood Education Program," shared ESL student Maria Saavedra. 

Other students shared anonymously; "I feel comfortable taking the ESL classes, and I am not afraid of making mistakes."

"I like that I really practice all my English skills."

"I like the interaction and teamwork with other students that have different accents. That helps me understand other people in English. 

"I like that you can improve a lot because the teachers are really good."

The High School Equivalency prep classes are for students 16 and older. Students between the ages of 16–17 must have a completed Underage Permission Form to be admitted. Students can take advantage of pre-testing, small group and individual instruction, tutor assistance (subject to volunteer tutor availability), computer practice, and independent study. The Adult Learning Center is committed to providing students with the full range of skills they need to succeed in college and their chosen careers.

The New Mexico HSE helps those who have earned their credential to qualify for higher-paying jobs as well as to enter college, degree, or certificate programs. After earning the HSE, students may be eligible for UNM’s Bridge to Success Scholarship, the New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship, and New Mexico Lottery Scholarships. Home-schooled students are welcome to enroll. 

All ESL and HSE classes are free, with study materials provided, through state and federal funds.

“These programs are dear to me because when I moved to the United States, I was an English as a Second Language student and I know how important it is to have a center that offers ESL and HSE classes to people from different backgrounds," stated Ramirez Aponte. "For that reason, I am committed to making this program a success and promoting it in our community and the surrounding areas. I am looking forward to helping students succeed in our program and reach their goals. I will also work towards attracting new students who will benefit from our FREE ESL classes, HSE classes, and Citizenship classes here in Los Alamos and surrounding areas.”

ESL, HSE, and Citizenship classes for the Spring 2023 semester begin on Jan. 17, and there will be an orientation the previous week from Jan. 9-13. ESL class levels include beginning, intermediate, and advanced, a schedule can be found online. Students are welcome to start the enrollment process now, by filling out the in-take form and taking their assessment test. For more information about the classes, call Naly Ramirez Aponte at 505.662.0338, email, or visit Los Alamos Adult Learning Center.

The Adult Learning Center is also hiring HSE and ESL Instructors and asks anyone who might be interested to please contact Naly Ramirez Aponte.