Becoming an American took a personal resolution

January 15, 2014

New Year resolutions are sometimes made for a short period of time and without a lot of preparation. But that was not the case for Pete Aldape of Altus, who had made a resolution for New Year’s 2012 to become a citizen of the United States of America before 2014.

As a native of Mexico, Mr. Aldape arrived in Texas at age 14 in 1965. Later he moved to Altus, Oklahoma, and only knew Spanish. In the past few years, he enrolled in the Altus Adult Education program and the Great Plains Literacy Council to help him with the English language.

Jason Winters, manager of Wisdom’s Call, LLC, in Altus, contacted the Great Plains Literacy Council at the Altus Public Library because he wanted resources to help Pete Aldape, an employee in his residential remodeling business, apply and pass the citizenship test with the U. S. Naturalization and Immigration Services. Bi-lingual Outreach Facilitator Aleida Burchett enrolled Pete in a citizenship study with volunteer tutor Steve Francis with weekly classes on social studies, writing, speaking, and the testing procedure.

“It is so commendable about Pete’s success in his achievement is his desire to take the test in English,” said Mr. Winters, “as he was exempt from the English language requirement since he was 55 or older at the time of filing for naturalization and had lived as a permanent resident in the United States for over 15 years (commonly referred to as the “55/15” exception). Pete met both of these requirements and could have taken the test in Spanish, but he did it in English. I am very proud of his educational determination to reach his goal because Mr. Aldape had limited opportunity to go to school early on in Mexico or in the United States.”

His wife Martha and granddaughter Nikki were also instrumental in encouraging his goal of citizenship. They traveled with him to the Naturalization Service in Oklahoma City to begin the background check process. Finally, he was notified to take the written and oral exam in April 2013. He passed the written U.S. history and government test and an interview session to determine his ability to speak English. He took his oath of citizenship at a ceremony on June 28, 2013. After about a year and a half, his 2012 New Year’s resolution was finally reached.

“I am very happy to be a new American, and I am thankful to all who helped me,” said Mr. Aldape. “Being a citizen makes me feel secure and has given me more rights. I look forward to being able to vote.”

The Great Plains Literacy Council wants to congratulate Pete Aldape for reaching his New Year’s resolution that took money, time, and study preparation to pass the U.S. citizenship requirements.