Over 170 adults taking citizenship classes at Jefferson Adult and Community School, located at Jefferson High School, were recently honored at the 2017 Citizenship Celebration. The theme was red, white, and blue, with stars and stripes in abundance, as the honorees received their citizenship completion certificates, a small American flag, and lots and lots of hugs by their instructors, fellow students, and guest speakers. Over 90 have already taken the oath of citizenship and an additional 80 are waiting for appointments with Immigration to become citizens.
These new citizens are the product of the Citizenship program offered by Hillsborough County Public Schools’ Adult Education. Many of these students are employed full-time, have families, and are also taking English Language classes as well. They come from many countries around the globe, including Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Honduras, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. According to Pam Elles, Jefferson’s Adult School administrator, “This very special event was started approximately 7 years ago. It is important to acknowledge this accomplishment, as these students have had to overcome financial hardships and language barriers to reach this dream.”
One such student, Welington Sulbaran, moved from Valera, Venezuela seven years ago. Welington left his family and most of his friends behind him when he moved to Tampa.
“My country (Venezuela) had a lot of problems, both political and financial, and where I lived was very poor and very dangerous.” After having visited Tampa twice previously, he said the city was “so beautiful” that he wanted to come live here permanently. He has always had a job – starting with work in the airport, at a restaurant, a small pet shop, and finally as a pet groomer at Petsmart (a job he truly enjoys!). He took Citizenship classes at Jefferson from January to June, and then successfully completed the required test/interview to become a naturalized citizen. Welington appreciates the opportunity he has had in his years in the United States, and is proud and happy to have become a citizen in the city that he loves.
Adult Education Citizenship classes are offered for those English Language Learners who have some basic English Language proficiency but need help in preparing for the citizenship (naturalization) test, administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, to become United States citizens. In addition to Jefferson, classes are also offered at other HCPS Adult Education sites including Leto, Chamberlain, Bowers/Whitley and Brewster. For more information about the Citizenship program, visit http://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/doc/961/adult-education/resources/citizenship/.