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Former student Alejandra Muñoz Contreras promoted to student services manager at Literacy Network

Alejandra Muñoz Contreras

Alejandra Muñoz Contreras started at the Literacy Network when it was just a small building on Park Street on Madison’s south side. 

Today, she, along with the organization, has grown into a new role and position. In April, she was promoted to the student services manager where she is a resource and a guide for the 1,000 adults that use the center each year. The building where she is now is still on Park Street, but is two stories high, with 10 classrooms, a large lobby and a library. 

Muñoz Contreras started at the network in 2015 while she was applying for citizenship. She said it is a rigorous process that involves many tests including reading, writing, pronunciation and filling out legal documents like a 128-question questionnaire.

Muñoz Contreras came to the U.S from Mexico 16 years ago. She has lived in Colorado, and Tennessee before making her way to Wisconsin. It was a goal of hers when she came to Wisconsin in 2013 to become a citizen; and now she gets to help others obtain those same goals. 

“Nobody closed the door when I asked for help,” she said. “So I don’t want to close the door on them. 

“I want to give, what they give me,” she later added. “Some students say we are not just an employer, we are a lawyer, a psychologist. We fit in many titles because people open up to us.” 

She first heard of the Literacy Network through Centro Hispano when she was seeking citizenship courses, and English classes. She remembers her husband watching their four children in the evening so she could attend. 

Most adults must study at least 100 hours to increase a level of literacy, the organization’s website says. Literacy Network offers English classes, Citizenships classes, GED Classes, community English classes and workplace literacy classes. Muñoz Contreras said she thinks students that she works with feel at ease at the organization. 

“I think most of the students feel comfortable in the Literacy Network. They feel welcome. They don’t feel discriminated against. Because when I started doing the classes I thought ‘Oh, only Spanish speakers doing that,’ but when I started to get more involved in the Literacy Network I saw that many people need to learn English. Like people from Russia, Japan,” she said. 

And then in 2016, she got her citizenship. 

By that time she had already been working part-time for the Literacy Network. She started off in a receptionist position after staff requested she apply. She then moved to the student services department where she eventually became a manager to a team of four. 

Alejandra Muñoz Contreras with her family (Photo supplied)

As far as the organization goes, it is her second family, she said. 

“I started as a student and now look what I have. I have a lot that I never expected. And I feel so comfortable in Literacy Network because they are my second family. They always support me when I’m in need of them — they are always there, in any situation they always give me their hand,” she said. 

If people are seeking information on citizenship or English classes, Munoz Contreras said they can call the Literacy Network or visit the website for information at litnetwork.org.