In August 2010, Anna Restuccia made her way to the Center for English as a Second Language (CESL) aspiring to be a journalist. Anna comes to us from the capitol city of Caracas, Venezuela. Her dreams of being an accomplished contributor to the journalism field are coming true, but she credits CESL as giving her the foundation she needed to succeed in America.
If you were to ask Anna how proficient in English she was when she arrived, she would say terrible.
“My English was really bad when I first got to CESL. I just accepted all the extra help I could get. I would come on Fridays when we had no class and study extra hard. I joined a language exchange program through CESL and met for 3 hours every week in the library on campus so my language partner could learn Spanish and I could improve my English skills. I knew I had to put a lot of effort into this so I did whatever I could to get better,” Anna explained.
Upon graduating in 2015 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations through the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communications, Anna is now pursuing her Master’s Degree in Strategic Communications. She also serves as a graduate and teaching assistant where she helps 60 students with research, in addition to being named the first Spanish-speaking ambassador of the Gaylord College by former Dean of the OU Journalism program, Joe Foote.
Anna attributes her drive to succeed being inspired by her grandparents.
“My grandparents were immigrants from Italy who moved to Venezuela. I watched them struggle and overcome many challenges in life. They were poor and did not know the language. Coming from that background just made me want to work hard and do good,” said Anna.
Like her grandparents, Anna overcame her own challenges of learning a new language.
“Knowing a second language is a different world," Anna said. "As I see it, CESL gave me the tools to communicate with the world. My favorite class was Public Speaking. Being a native Spanish speaker, we typically speak very fast. Public Speaking taught me how to slow down and articulate my words so that people could understand me better. Now, I can think in 3 languages and have become a more conscious person, sort of like a citizen of the world. I don’t look at CESL as an English academy; it’s so much more than that. I see this as a place for friendship. I made many connections while there including with the director, Donna Alexander. She was the first person I met and she believed in me. I always felt very supported at CESL.”
Although Anna has achieved many great things while studying at OU, she is particularly proud of her employment as a Telemundo reporter in Oklahoma City. Telemundo is an American Spanish-language television network owned by NBC.
“Not only was this a great opportunity for me to gain valuable skills in my career field," Anna said. "But it allowed me to reach a minority audience that often does not have a voice.”
Anna aspires to work for a global corporation in the United States. She hopes to become an expert in international communication campaigns and possibly return to Venezuela one day to work as an anchor/reporter there.
There is no doubt that Anna is climbing the stairs to success quickly and the sky is the limit for her. Even though it has been 6 years since she attended CESL, she wanted to share some heartfelt insight to future and current students. “Be open to other cultures and try not to focus on JUST learning English. When I was at CESL, I was invited to the Mosque to learn about Ramadan and I went. I love diversity and welcome the opportunity to learn about a new culture. Being at CESL is being part of a community where everyone is hungry to know different people from everywhere. That is why coming to Oklahoma is a good thing! When you get here, not many people will speak your language, which will force you to learn about other cultures and grow as a person.”