Monday, September 12, 2016

Students Share What it Means to be a Citizen

In celebration of U.S. Constitution Week, we asked a few of our students and employees about citizenship, and what it means to them to be an American. Here’s what they had to say.

Tammie Malkow-Dunham
High School Equivalency (HSE) graduate, Rio Salado College Avondale

What does it mean to be an American? It means everything to me! Rio Salado College played a large role in helping me accomplish this goal.

Before the citizenship test, I did not know much history of the United States. I took HSE social studies classes which helped me immensely in passing the test.

At the citizenship swearing-in ceremony on November 15, 2015, I was the only Canadian out of 53 candidates from 21 countries. When I raised my right hand to make the pledge of allegiance and the oath of citizenship, I fought back tears, knowing this was one of the most important days of my life.

It was a very emotional day for me. I am now able to say “I’m an American,” just like my husband. I felt united with him now, not a Canadian and an American in a household.

One of the other biggest reasons for me was the importance to be able to vote. Finally, I can participate in the political system in this country. I was so excited to vote in this year’s primary that I was at the polling station an hour and a half before it opened!

I was even asked if I would like to work at the poll.  I eagerly agreed. Now I have a job working all elections in Arizona. What better way to learn about the voting process than to work it?

It is a huge blessing to be able to express myself freely without any fear of punishment or deportation. That fear and stress weights on you during the long and expensive immigration process.

It is such an honor to become a citizen of this great nation, a country that my husband so proudly fought and served for, for more than 25 years.  We are now one united by one nation.