Bridging the Opportunity Divide

For New Americans Struggling with Paperwork, These College Students Are Helping Tackle It

November 28, 2014
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For New Americans Struggling with Paperwork, These College Students Are Helping Tackle It
Students have helped people fill out job applications, create resumes and prepare for the U.S. naturalization test. John Moore/Getty Images
A class assignment turned into a valuable resource for the community.

Melanie Domenech Rodríguez, a multi-cultural psychology teacher at Utah State University in Logan, Utah, came up with an innovative way for her students to gain some hands-on experience with the topics they discussed in class: Every Tuesday night, students volunteer to help local refugees and immigrants at an employment and citizenship clinic they created.

Rodríguez and others initially trained the students, but now they run the clinic themselves.

Antonia Keller, a student coordinator, tells Lis Stewart of HJNews, “It’s been really exciting for me and really rewarding to meet all the people that move to Cache Valley. I think it really enriches the valley and makes it a better place to have people from all different backgrounds and experiences here.”

Keller and the other students help immigrants craft resumes, fill out job applications and complete the paperwork required for the naturalization test. While there are other organizations in the community that help immigrants study for the test, no one else was helping them handle the paperwork. “It’s really intensive,” Keller says, “and really a kind of big bureaucratic thing to tackle on your own.”

The clinic has been successful enough that Utah State students will continue to run it in the spring, surely resulting in more insights like the one college student Alecc Quezada had about how privileged he is to have grown up in the United States. “I knew that to become a citizen you had to take a test, and I knew what resumes and what jobs required, but it’s so much easier knowing the language especially and having that cultural background,” he says.

MORE: For More Than 100 Years, This House Has Been Welcoming New Americans

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