Rancho Santiago Community College District Celebrates New U.S. Citizens on June 28
Benita Arvizu is one of 300 recently naturalized residents invited to the “New U.S. Citizenship Celebration” hosted by Rancho Santiago College District’s (RSCCD) citizenship programs at Santa Ana College’s Centennial Education Center and Santiago Canyon College’s Orange Education Center. The event is slated for Saturday, June 28 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at Santa Ana College, Phillips Hall, 1530 W. 17th St., Santa Ana, CA 92706.
Today, she makes her living cleaning other people’s homes, but Arvizu sees her recent achievement of U.S. citizen as the key to a brighter future.
“I’ll have greater opportunities to work, to travel, and to vote,” she says. “Becoming a citizen makes me so very happy,” she exclaims. “I couldn’t have succeeded without the help of my wonderful professor.”
Arvizu is one of 300 recently naturalized residents invited to the “New U.S. Citizenship Celebration” hosted by Rancho Santiago College District’s (RSCCD) citizenship programs at Santa Ana College’s Centennial Education Center and Santiago Canyon College’s Orange Education Center. The event is slated for Saturday, June 28 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at Santa Ana College, Phillips Hall, 1530 W. 17th St., Santa Ana, CA 92706.
A capacity crowd is expected for this first-time celebration. Dignitaries who are confirmed to speak include Assemblymember José Solorio, Assemblymember Van Tran, City of Orange Mayor Carolyn V. Cavecche, and RSCCD Board of Trustees President Phillip Yarbrough. Santa Ana College President Erlinda J. Martinez, Ed.D., and Santiago Canyon College President Juan Vázquez will also speak.
Orange County’s Votemobile will be on hand to register the new citizens as voters. Cake and refreshments courtesy of the Kiwanis Club of Santa Ana will be served after a ceremony; free parking is available in student lots 6 and 7.
In January 2008, the college district was awarded its second contract from the California Department of Community Services and Development Naturalization Services Program to provide support services to legal permanent residents in Orange County wishing to become naturalized citizens. The $130,000 18-month grant provided funds for RSCCD to:
- Expand the college district’s naturalization outreach to all of Orange County;
- Enlarge its naturalization intake and assessment services to the college district’s legal permanent residents;
- Expand referrals for applicants to receive legal services;
- Increase naturalization citizenship application assistance;
- Increase the number of citizenship classes and the opportunities for independent study; and
- Monitor client progress throughout the naturalization process.
According to Luis Dorado, interim associate dean of instructional and student services at Santa Ana College’s School of Continuing Education, “This grant has made a huge impact on the immigrant community helping thousands of residents achieve the dream of citizenship.”
During 2007-2008, the college district provided naturalization support services to 4,274 Orange County residents as compared to the 832 residents served in 2005-2006, the year prior to the initial grant.
Today, Arvizu shares her passion about citizenship with others at Santa Ana College as a volunteer in the citizenship program. “It is an excellent practice to help others,” she says. “I used to do that in Mexico and I am happy to do it here, too. I am honored to help others study for their citizenship exams as my teachers helped me.”
But her studies are not over. She is now enrolled in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes as she knows that improving her English skills will open the door to a better job. She has already recruited one of her adult daughters to attend citizenship classes and is hard at work on the other daughter.
For more information on the free services to the community available through the RSCCD citizenship program, contact Santiago Canyon College’s Orange Education Center at (714) 628-5928 or Santa Ana College’s Centennial Education Center at (714) 241-5730.
About the Rancho Santiago Community College District
The mission of the Rancho Santiago Community College District (RSCCD) is to respond to the educational needs of an ever-changing community and to provide programs and services that reflect academic excellence. Santa Ana College and Santiago Canyon College are public community colleges of RSCCD, which serve the residents of Anaheim Hills, East Garden Grove, Irvine, Orange, Santa Ana, Tustin and Villa Park. Both colleges provide education for academic transfer and careers, courses for personal and professional development, customized training for business and industry, and programs to train nurses, firefighters and law enforcement personnel.