Griselda became a new U.S. citizen after taking PUENTE’s citizenship test prep class. Andy was her volunteer citizenship instructor. He provided extra guidance outside of class time, and he even accompanied Griselda to the naturalization ceremony.

PUENTE is more than a learning center. We’re a community resource. By preparing students for the citizenship exam, PUENTE makes it possible for more people in our community to enjoy the full benefits that our country has available. “As a citizen, you have so many more opportunities to participate,” Griselda says.

As a nonprofit, PUENTE relies on volunteers like Andy to support our programs like the citizenship classes. For Andy, experiences like Griselda’s swearing-in ceremony show him how he is making a difference.

“When she saw me after exiting the ceremony, she buried her head in my chest and started crying,” Andy said. “Anyone who doesn’t think citizenship means a lot should have seen Griselda.”

“I felt so overwhelmed with emotion,” added Griselda. “Here was this man with no relation to me on the most important day of my life. I will forever be grateful to Andy and everyone at PUENTE who has helped me.”

Griselda and her family have been taking advantage of the multi-generational programs of PUENTE for years. Griselda has taken several classes at PUENTE, first in ESL, and now in High School Diploma. Her nephew is enrolled in PUENTE Preschool, and her own children participate in our Summer Camp.  Griselda also volunteers as a member of the PUENTE Advisory Council. She plans to complete her high school diploma at PUENTE and then apply for a full-time job.

For others who are considering U.S. citizenship, Griselda offers this advice: “Keep at it and don’t doubt yourself…You have to keep moving forward if you want the opportunities that this country offers, such as the right to be involved in the political process. With time and effort, anything can be achieved.”