Student Spotlight

The English for Professional Purposes (ESL) certificate program is under review and no classes will be offered for the program at this time. Please contact the College of Extended Learning for further information.

Photo: Leny Engman

Marcialeny Engman, Clinical Trials Certificate Graduate and English for Professional Purposes (ESL) Student

In her first class in SF State Extended Learning’s Clinical Trials Certificate Program, “Leny” Engman started applying for jobs in the field. She landed a phone interview with Summit Pain Alliance. In her words, she did horribly. “I didn’t know enough,” she said. Fast forward to March 2016, with Leny at the end of the Clinical Trials Program and with an English for Professional Purposes (ESL) Business Writing course under her belt. She secured an in-person interview with Summit Pain Alliance and was interviewed by the same representative (who seemed not to have recognized her from the phone interview). She did so well that he asked her, “Can you start next week?” Leny notes that it was “a total 180 degree turn.”

Leny attributes her success to the accomplished, engaging instructors in the Clinical Trials program and the excellent teaching of instructor Jim O’Hara (Business Writing for non-native speakers instructor). And this is true. What Leny might not say is that it is really her determination and drive that have led to her success.

Originally from Venezuela, Leny went to medical school in the Dominican Republic. “I always knew I wanted to be a doctor.” She earned her medical degree, and then accompanied her husband to the United States where the licensing process is long, expensive and difficult for those with international medical degrees. In order to focus on other areas of her life including her family and new son, she decided another path would be wise.

On the advice of a friend, she explored the Clinical Trials programs and chose SF State Extended Learning for its strong reputation, night-time schedule, and affordability. Once in the program, she valued both the teachers’ approach to the class and their real world experience in the field. “Classes were exciting.”

After several Clinical Trials courses, Leny started applying for jobs again, but found she wasn’t getting a response. A native Spanish-speaker, she is confident in her conversational English skills but not her writing skills. She signed up for Better Business Writing with Jim O’Hara, in the English for Professional Purposes (ESL) program and was impressed with his welcoming everyone in five languages and with his helpful feedback. In this course, Jim leads students through practical, business communication practice that yields results. For example, though it was tough, she had her resume critiqued by the whole class. Before, when a job posting asked for her cover letter, it was her nightmare, but now she has confidence in her writing, to the point where she has sent letters to companies she wanted to work for but who were not currently posting jobs. She can’t say enough to encourage non-native English speakers in other Extended Learning programs to join the English for Professional Purposes (ESL) courses. She credits them as the spark for her career search success.

As of the time of this article, Leny is excited to start her new job as a Clinical Research Coordinator at Summit Pain Alliance in just a few days, but we know it won’t be long until she takes on more (and more) responsibility, moving up in the Clinical Trials field.