When Orizema decided to give back to her community as a Library volunteer, she had no idea that the experience would not only change her life, but that of her father’s as well.

Orizema was born and raised in San Jose’s East Side. The eldest of four children and daughter to immigrant parents, she learned early on the value of helping others. As a child, she often found herself translating for her parents and helping them navigate the challenges of life in a new country. She saw firsthand how difficult it can be to learn a new language as an adult.

Headshot of Orezima.

A first-generation college student, Orizema stayed close to her family, studying graphic design at San José State University before landing her dream job as a visual designer with IBM. So, when she heard about an opportunity to volunteer with the San José Public Library as an English-language tutor in the Partners in Reading program.

She now meets with three students twice a week to practice their English. “This experience allows me to connect with my community and even practice my own Spanish. It has been fulfilling for me to give back in the way I wish my parents had help when we were young.”

Beyond this sense of fulfillment and connection to her roots, Orizema is most excited about the impact her connection to the Library has had on her dad. “After I started tutoring, my dad signed up for the Library’s Career Online Highs School program and he is going through it now.”

Once he completes the program, Orizema’s father will earn his high school diploma and career certificate, opening a new chapter in his life all thanks to his daughter’s passion to give back.

Orizema may have expected that she would feel satisfied watching her students improve their English skills and grow in confidence, but she never expected to see her father’s life transformed as well. Volunteering with the library truly has come full circle for Orizema and her family.

See the story of Orizema’s family featured on KPIX CBS 5 Bay Area!