Ecuadorian earns award

Ruth Cisneros honored by library for her passion in learning English; she is now pursuing dentistry career here in America.

September 04, 2008|By Daniel Tedford

Ruth Cisneros knew she wanted to have a career with opportunity and one that allowed her to help people. Going to medical school was a natural fit. As she walked in her home country of Ecuador to the nearest facility to sign up for medical school, the building was closed. But Cisneros’ hopes were not dashed.

Instead, Cisneros made the best of what was provided — that being a dentistry school down the street.

Years later, and nearly 10 years since she immigrated to America, Cisneros is making the best of what could have been a bad situation once again. She learned English thanks to a literacy program at Newport Beach Public Library, giving her the opportunity now to earn a dentistry degree in the U.S.

On Thursday, she celebrated another milestone as she won the Rochelle Hoffman Memorial Award at the International Literacy Day celebration Thursday at the Newport Beach Public Library.


Cisneros was honored for her passion to learn to read, write and speak English while also dedicating herself to public service.

“This program helps a lot of people, a lot of adults, not just with language, but with confidence and skills,” Cisneros said. “I consider this a unique program.”

On International Literacy Day — normally celebrated by the United Nations on Sept. 8 but Newport Beach celebrates the first Thursday after Labor Day — the literacy program at the Newport Beach Public Library comes together to acknowledge students in the literacy program and the tutors who help them to read, write and speak English. Whether it be to help them get a job, become a citizen, vote for the first time or just read a book to their child, the program’s goal is to help people live better lives.

“It takes a lot of dedication,” Literacy Coordinator Cherall Weiss said. “No one is going to learn in one to two hours. They must make a huge time commitment.”

Cisneros was awarded the Hoffman scholarship for her work in the program and her work to help others in the community.

“She’s inspirational,” Weiss said. “She is so sincere in her efforts in improving herself.”

Cisneros intends to use her new skills to start practicing dentistry again. She practiced in Ecuador and has her dental assistant license.

“A long time back, she had no self confidence,” Cisneros’ tutor Terry Buckley said. “[The program] has given her the wherewithal to push and push and push.”

The program takes in those who want to learn and matches them with a tutor. The matches are selected with care and everything can be kept confidential if requested, Weiss said. The program requires those who join make a minimum one-year commitment to the program.

“The benefits are going to make them much more confident,” Weiss said.

For more information on the program, go to the Newport Beach Public Library’s website at

DANIEL TEDFORD may be reached at (714) 966-4632 or at

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