Jamaica Right at Home in Kenosha

Local paralegal, author shares her inspiring story

By Ashleigh HenrichsKENOSHA.COM

After earning a master’s degree in writing from DePaul University, Henrichs began a career in editing. Since moving to the Kenosha area nearly 20 years ago, Henrichs has put down roots, been actively engaged in professional roles, in education, and serves on a number of local non-profit boards.

The Kenosha Literacy Council (KLC) has provided English literacy classes and programs to adults in our community since 1965.

In a typical year, the non-profit organization serves nearly 600 students from 40 different countries. Adult learners come to the KLC with their own unique circumstances, challenges and goals. 

Susana Jamaica is one example of a dedicated, determined KLC student who aimed high to achieve those goals.

Jamaica, a native of Mexico, has lived in Kenosha for seven years.

Although she was nervous about making a commitment to learn English as a second language, Jamaica wanted to be a role model for her son Lincoln.

“I was nervous when I got the information about the Kenosha Literacy Council, but I still enrolled in their English Language Learner Civics class and tutoring,” Jamaica said. 

“I paid attention, I participated and reinforced what I learned at home. The most important thing that I learned at KLC was the importance of helping others. We are part of society where the people that you help, later become helpers for other people in need.”

Not only did Jamaica attend tutoring sessions, complete the Civics program and attend other classes – she also enrolled in the United States Citizenship course. She hopes to take the Citizenship test when she is eligible in two years. 

After learning English at the Literacy Council and landing a paralegal position, she decided to write a children’s book

When Jamaica was comfortable with her English language skills, she took on yet another daunting challenge: She enrolled in the Paralegal Certification Program at Carthage College. Once again, Jamaica put her knowledge and skills to work while also not being afraid to ask for help when needed. 

“I knew my English grammar wasn’t perfect, but I was treated like any other student,” Jamaica said. “I received a lot of support and even now, I still reach out to my (Carthage) teachers and they are always available to assist me. Also, Carthage connects their students with potential employers.”

Jamaica works as a paralegal at Gagliardi Law in Paddock Lake.

“I just love her,” attorney Paul Gagliardi Sr. said. “She’s my Spanish teacher. We have a fairly large contingent of Spanish speaking clients and she’s available to assist. We grew up speaking Italian in my house when I was really young. I swore that I was going to learn how to speak Spanish.”

Jamaica wasn’t finished. After learning English at the Literacy Council and landing a paralegal position, she decided to write a children’s book. 

The book, Learning From You, took her nearly six months to complete. 

“It’s fabulous,” Gagliardi said. “I have it in my (desk) drawer.”

Jamaica notes that the inspiration for the book came from Lincoln, with help from instructors at Gateway Technical College and Kenosha Unified School District. She wrote the book to encourage children to support their parents and to highlight how their actions impact others. 

Jamaica’s son is her biggest fan. Through her years of classes and learning, he has been her motivation. When asked how Lincoln felt about his mother becoming a published author, Jamaica shared that he “could not believe it” and said, “I’m proud of you, mom.”

“Those words made it all worth it,” Jamaica said.