Miss New Jersey, whose platform is literacy, came to the Jersey City Free Public Library to promote adult literacy on Wednesday, September 22nd.

Ashleigh Udalovas is making literacy the calling card of her tenure as Miss New Jersey 2010. Staying from 2 to 4 p.m., she appeared at library with members of the Jersey City Library Literacy Program, and lingered to speak with the children participating that afternoon at the Bonetti Children’s Room. Literacy shared information about their program from the side of both tutors and students, which was much appreciated by the reigning Miss New Jersey.

“There are few things more important to success in America today than literacy,” said Udalovas, 22, who is pursuing degrees in Spanish and in education at Rowan University. “To a child, literacy is the door to rooms full of knowledge about this world and its history; and it is a road to worlds of imagination. To an adult, literacy creates opportunities for further education, and it clears the way to social and professional advancement. Literacy helps to put everything we value, within our reach.”

Miss New Jersey graciously listened to Asalbonu Akhadova, a young child who wanted to meet her, taking the time to sit with her for discussion of her writing.

The Jersey City Library Literacy Program provides one-on-one and small class tutoring and other educational services to adults desiring increased literacy skills in either basic literacy or English as a Second Language. The organization is based at the Main Library at Jersey Avenue but provides the tutoring and classes at the Five Corners and Greenville branches.

“We are delighted that this year’s Miss New Jersey is working to raise awareness throughout the state of the large number of adults that need literacy program services.” said Nancy Sambul, executive director of the Literacy Program. “Adults everywhere in New Jersey that need services will know to look for a local program; and we hope that people interested in becoming tutors will also contact us. Learning to read and write leads to well-informed citizens who can better meet the demands of a challenging work environment.”

Literacy has been a longtime passion for Udalovas. She began a partnership with First Book in October 2008, when she established a First Book Local Advisory Board for Cumberland County. Under her leadership, the board donated more than $2,000 to community programs in 2009, and about 2,000 children from low-income families have been given age-appropriate books for their very own.

A 2006 graduate of Millville Senior High School, Udalovas is a member of the Millville Public Library Board of Trustees. She also plans to publish a children's story she has written about the importance of reading.

“For children, the biggest influence on how much they read is their parents, and how much their parents read to them and in their presence,” said Udalovas. “But for adults who are trying to boost their literacy skills, organizations like Literacy Volunteers of New Jersey are one of the greatest resources available.”

Nationwide, about 32 million adults, or 14 percent of the population, have “very low” literacy skills, according to the U.S. Department of Education. In New Jersey almost 1 million adults over the age of 25 do not have a high school diploma. In the state's urban school districts, between 40 and 60 percent of students drop out of school with reading levels well below ninth grade.

The Literacy Program at the Jersey City Public Library is an affiliate program of Literacy Volunteers of New Jersey, the only statewide volunteer-based literacy organization in New Jersey. The Literacy Program has the largest computer lab for its Literacy students in the state and also provides citizenship classes to residents preparing to take the INS exam and interview. The Literacy Program was established in 1986 and is funded by federal, state and municipal grants, donations and the annual Macy’s Shop for a Cause fund-raiser.

The Literacy Volunteers of New Jersey was established in 1979 to support and promote quality adult education programs throughout the state. These organizations recruit, train, and match volunteers with adults who need to improve their basic reading, writing and math skills, or their ability to understand and speak English.

Last year 1,800 tutors provided more than 85,209 hours of free instruction in Basic Literacy (reading, writing, and math) or English for Speakers of Other Languages to more than 3,500 adults with limited literacy skills.

For more information about the Jersey City Library Literacy Program, call (201) 547-4518, or e-mail the staff at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

THE ‘WOW’ FACTOR – Nancy Sambul, executive director of the Jersey City Library Literacy Program, stands with Miss New Jersey 2010. Ashleigh Udalovas, whose platform is literacy, visited the award-winning literacy program in Jersey City on September 22 and in her remarks, it was clear she understood the powerful impact adult literacy has on children’s literacy. In other words, if family and personal success is to happen, one really can’t exist without the other! Miss New Jersey’s ‘wow’ factor increased immeasurably when Nancy Sambul heard that, bringing tears to her eyes. Wow!

TAKING TIME TO LISTEN…& READ – Ashleigh Udalovas, the reigning Miss New Jersey, took time to be with a young girl, as she shows her writing to Miss New Jersey 2010, demonstrating the power of being literate. After speaking with her, Miss New Jersey autographed one of her postcards for Asalbonu Akhadova.

SHARING A LOVE OF LITERACY – Library Director Priscilla Gardner and Supervising Librarian Hussein Odeh came downstairs to meet Miss New Jersey, before she left the Main Library, and were greeted with a very gracious autograph-signing by Ashleigh Udalovas.

LITERACY BRIGHTENS YOUR FUTURE – Ashleigh Udalovas, Miss New Jersey 2010, talks with Asalbonu Akhadova, a budding young writer who couldn’t wait to meet Miss New Jersey to show her her writing, which proves how literacy paves the way to success, while Jersey City Library Literacy Program Executive Director Nancy Sambul stands by and takes a phone call.