The Arkansas Literacy Councils 2017 Student of the Year was our very own James Hawkins from Conway! Many thanks to the ALC Board, and to James’ tutor, Michael Siniawa, who wrote the nomination for James below. And, of course, to James Hawkins, for being such an inspiring and hardworking student!

James Hawkins

Since I began working with James in December of 2016 after his last tutor went abroad, he’s been a consistent, punctual, and hard-working individual. When he came to us in 2012, he was at a second grade level and his goal was to improve and then maintain his skills for everyday and independent use. His progress has been slow due to some of the learning challenges that he faces and may not be aware of, but he is so dedicated to learning to improve his skills that it’s a pleasure to work with him. He has made slow but steady progress on our journey so far.

Working part-time as a custodian at UCA, he is able to make every lesson and is always finding extra time to study and review past materials even though he’d rather be taking care of his garden in which he grows a plethora of things.  Throughout our studies together, I have noticed his difficulties with learning and retaining the lessons, so I tell him that consistency is the key to his success, and he understands that now and is excited by the results. Regardless of this struggle, he comes to every session happy and ready to learn. He often says “Man, I’m gonna tear up when I finally get it,” and I think I may, too.

Past tutors have had some difficulty finding the right activities to help James, but due to my major of Communication Sciences, I have been able to apply my knowledge to give him a better shot. The smile he gives when he can read a paragraph with just one or no mistakes or when he gets through a difficult workbook section with ease, or finally says a word he’s been having trouble with, is the most rewarding thing about what we’re doing. He finally knows he’s getting somewhere after this long journey that we’re on, and his excitement shows. He’s now eager to meet a third time every week.

I hope that you can feel what James means to me as a tutor. He’s a dedicated student who works through hardship. James deserves recognition and a group around him that will encourage his progress and celebrate his successes.