Zuni Bloomer draws on her experience as a non-native English speaker to encourage others
When Zuni Bloomer MA ’20 heard about the Class of 2020 gift from Concordia-Chicago’s Alumni Association, she immediately wanted to share the celebration with her family. Bloomer ordered her complimentary T-shirt, then purchased an additional dozen shirts for family members in the U.S. and in the Dominican Republic.
“Once they get (the package), we are going to play a little game. They will have to find my name,” Bloomer laughed remembering the 800 candidate names. “There’s prizes for whoever finds me first.”
A Dominican Republic native, Bloomer finished her undergraduate degree in 2003 and began teaching in her home country. Obtaining a master’s degree was always a goal for Bloomer, but she didn’t know when she’d be able to pursue it.
Bloomer immigrated to the U.S. in 2004. When she relocated to Elgin, IL, Bloomer noticed a large population of English language learners (ELL). “My first language is Spanish, so I saw the high need,” Bloomer said. “I know what it feels like to not understand the language. I wanted to learn the skills and strategies to be able to help (these students).”
She saw the perfect opportunity to use her skills as a 5th grade Dual Language teacher and ELL school representative. A flyer in her school mailbox at Timber Trails Elementary in Hoffman Estates led Bloomer to fall in love with CUC’s graduate program in ESL studies. “I read reviews, knew alumni teachers and liked (CUC’s) beliefs. I decided, ‘This is where I want to do (my degree).’”
Despite the global pandemic, Bloomer thrived in her online studies, noting the different teaching methods she now applies. “My eyes opened to see that English does not belong to just a particular country, but it is an international language that belongs to those who use it,” Bloomer recalls. “We have a diverse community at our school. We have to make sure we are teaching (students) to be more welcoming and culturally aware.”
Bloomer wants her students to know, “When we have a goal or dream, sometimes we put it off or life happens, but don’t give up on it. At some point get back on it. It doesn’t come easy, but it is worthy.”
Now that her degree work is complete, Bloomer is excited to celebrate with her family. Despite the challenges and distance, she kept pushing. “I want to encourage people to keep going. When things get hard, have faith that it is going to be OK, and trust in God, who is bigger than any extenuating circumstances.”