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Paperback Details
  • 04/2021
  • 978-1-952779-55-8 B093CC1RBH
  • 272 pages
  • $21.97
WE ARE EAGLES: Inspiring Stories Of Immigrant Women Who Took Bold Steps In Life Through Literacy

Adult; Memoir; (Market)

Maribel, a domestic violence survivor, raised a daughter while cleaning toilets for a living, then later ran her own business and a marathon. Juanita escaped stalkers by seeking a new life in America. Blanca rose from housekeeping to management before a corporate decision changed her life. Teresa married against her father’s wishes, survived an earthquake and natural gas explosions, before settling her family in America and setting four new goals. Maria found inner strength after her husband’s accident, which led to achieving goals in a new country.

These women and more are among the inspiring immigrants, who left behind poverty and gained confidence and strength as they learned about life through a new language at the Dominican Literacy Center in the Chicago area. The lives of these women took shape during the first 25 years of the center as they reached milestones that many others took for granted. They also saw their children grow without the fear of poverty or hunger and become the first generation in their families to graduate high school and college.

The center, which started inside a church basement, has since expanded to a large building and then spun off a second center. Today, the Dominican Literacy Center is a bustling learning community that has taught thousands of immigrants the baffling language of American English.

Tomczyk’s uplifting account follows the stories of several women who,since the 1970s, have migrated from Mexico to the United States, and whose lives are tied together by an Aurora, Illinois, English literacy center—and a will to succeed. We Are Eagles shows how against all odds––systemic racism, poverty, and domestic abuse––Maribel, Juanita, Blanca, Teresa, and Maria have achieved their dreams and created the opportunity for easier lives for their children. The featured women come from different backgrounds, from rural to city, farm to factory, poverty to middle class, and came to Aurora for a myriad of reasons, taking any chance to go to school, achieve economic independence, and marry who they love. Tomczyk highlights growing hostility towards migrants in the U.S. as well as the particular difficulties that they faced in learning English––often toiling in solitary jobs or with other migrant women, they couldn’t pick it up as easily as their husbands and children.

While the narrative also follows Sister Kathleen Ryan’s path to founding the center and expanding it over the past 25 years, the story’s heart lies in each woman’s realization of her own definition of success. The women are strong and inspiring, though the text, written in an often bare-bones third-person narration, sometimes lacks the incisive detail that would make the stories more impactful.

Tomczyk draws upon the life cycles of an eagle to organize the women’s journeys, from leaving the nest to soaring. This device works to create a sense of community between women who don’t all necessarily meet, as well as a unity to the text, as Tomczyk demonstrates how the literacy center fills a need that ESL classes alone could not. By focusing on the women, their independence, and their community, We Are Eagles offers a story of overcoming hardships through spirituality, hard work, and sheer will.

Takeaway: A refreshing account of women from Mexico finding success in the U.S., with aid from an Illinois English literacy center.

Great for fans of: Elva Treviño Hart’s Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child, Helena Maria Viramontes’s Under the Feet of Jesus.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B
Marketing copy: B

Amazon Reviews

Amazing stories! I would recommend it to anyone wanting a feel-good story of current-day immigrant women. The five ladies featured in this book struggled with learning English when they came to America. Through the patience, encouragement and one-on-one tutoring by the Dominican Literacy Center, they not only learned English, but these ladies are also thriving! The book’s design is organized in the lifecycle of an eagle. The chapters make it easy to read it straight through or by reading each person’s story on its own. -- Peg Overholt

This book enlightens and entertains. True stories, extensively detailed in a very thorough journalistic style. The thing I like best?? Is has examples of how to "actually help people and society." It is not a scold book about how bad things are...... rather a light showing how we as a society can help others succeed. Highest recommendation in a "I want to feel good and enlightened" way. -- Joseph M. O'Donnell 

This book is inspiring, and tells beautiful stories about these wonderful women. In these strange times, it is the perfect read. I loved it. -- Donna Metcalf

More available


This was a clever and well-written book that provides five specific examples of how the Dominican Literacy Center has positively impacted the lives of those who are fortunate enough to find it and take their English classes. Having served on the board, I loved the accurate descriptions of Sisters Kathleen, Ann, and Jane who care deeply for their work and the individuals with whom they work. The book is divided into four powerful parts allowing readers an inside glimpse into the challenges that immigrant women often face when arriving in the United States. -- Denise Hatcher, Good


This book was a great representation of the Dominican Literacy Center in Aurora Illinois. It shows why it is important for immigrant women to learn English in order to improve the quality of life for themselves and their children. The author provided information on various women and how learning English and becoming US citizens changed their lives. When you educate a mother it trickles down to the whole family. -- Mary Ann rated it really liked it

Taking Flight: A Book Review

By Sister Beth Murphy, OPAnna Marie Kukec Tomczyk’s book We Are Eagles tells the stories of five immigrant women who launched new lives in a strange country through their dreams, drive, determination, and the support of the Dominican Literacy Center in Aurora, Ill.Readers follow along as the author traces the women’s journeys along the developmental path of young eagles, starting with the first courageous flights away from the land of their birth to the soaring heights of independent, fruitful, and successful lives.At the same time, she tells the story of the Dominican Literacy Center and the women who founded it, starting with the inspiration Springfield Dominican Sister Kathleen Ryan found on a lazy Sunday morning in 1993. The dream was brought to fruition sooner than she anticipated when, before she was quite ready, her first student showed up at St. Nicholas Parish in Aurora, Ill., ready to learn.Readers will be inspired by the ability of these immigrant English language learners to rise above what challenged them. For one, it was the drive to learn English so she could read to her children and give them a better start in life. For another, it was about advancing her career and starting her own business; for another it was a courageous journey from domestic abuse to independence for herself and her daughter. Along the way, readers follow the growth of the Dominican Literacy Center from its beginnings in a church basement to a 17-classroom, 200-hundred volunteer program that has expanded to include citizenship classes for women and men.

Book Highlights How Aurora Literacy Center Helps Immigrant Women

Reflejos article, page 3, on We Are Eagles 

Book Highlights How Aurora Literacy Center Helps Immigrant Women

Daily Herald article on page 11.

Chicago author's book explores how literacy center helps immigrant women

Daily Herald Neighbor Section article on We Are Eagles. 

Chicago Journalist, Author Anna Marie Kukec Tomczyk, Explores How Dominican Lite

Houston Chronicle story on We Are Eagles 

Chicago Journalist, Author Anna Marie Kukec Tomczyk, Explores How Dominican Lite

Rockford Register Star article on We Are Eagles 

Get Down To Business With Shalom Klein Podcast

Get Down To Business with Shalom Klein, podcast interview with Author Anna Marie Kukec Tomczyk. 

Robert Feder Column

The Robert Feder Column includes Anna Marie Kukec Tomczyk's new book, We Are Eagles. 


Saint Xavier University (SXU) alumna Anna Marie Kukec Tomczyk '83 has released a book, "We Are Eagles: Inspiring Stories of Immigrant Women Who Took Bold Steps in Life Through Literacy." The book follows the lives of five Latinas whose lives were changed after learning English at the Dominican Literacy Center in Aurora. The center, a place of hope, support and safety for immigrants escaping dangerous situations, helped these women bloom, and they'll now go on to inspire many through Tomczyk's book.  Read more... 

We Are Eagles Book Launch

Facebook Live presentation, hosted by Fig Factor Media and Dominican Literacy Center, to debut the book, We Are Eagles: Inspiring Stories of Immigrant Women Who Took Bold Steps in Life Through Literacy, with author Anna Marie Kukec Tomczyk

WMAY Interview with Author Anna Marie Kukec Tomczyk

Host Jim Leach, of WMAY Radio, interviews author Anna Marie Kukec Tomczyk and Dominican Sister Beth Murphy about the new book, We Are Eagles. 

Paperback Details
  • 04/2021
  • 978-1-952779-55-8 B093CC1RBH
  • 272 pages
  • $21.97