The US Naturalization process can be overwhelming for immigrants who need to learn the English language. Genoveva Benitz, a native of Mexico, can agree that it seemed like a challenge for her to reach this goal. She only knew how to speak her native Spanish language. The challenge of taking the citizenship test in English would be a major obstacle for her.
Studying for the English requirements became easier when she contacted the Great Plains Literacy Council at the Altus Public Library in December 2012. Volunteer tutor Aleida Burchett was assigned to work with this adult ESL (English as Second Language) learner on a weekly basis On August 16, 2013, her goal of becoming a US citizen became a reality for Mrs. Benitez. The US Magistrate Judge Steven Shreder presided at the special ceremony held at the US Courthouse in Muskogee. Mrs. Benitez was one of 23 persons from all over the world welcomed in as USA citizens.
The program included the administration of the oath of citizenship, a video welcome from President Barack Obama, Pledge of Allegiance by all the inductees, a vocal presentation of “America the Beautiful”, and the presentation of certificates and American flags. Mrs. Benitez’s husband Jesus “Jessie” Benitez and her tutor Aleida Burchett attended the encouraging ceremony.
As Mrs. Benitez looked back over the years since she came to the United States in March 1976, she said she knew she and her family would have a better life in this country. Upon arrival, she remembers chopping cotton in those early years, but in the past 20 years, Genoveva has worked at Bar-S Foods Company in Altus.
She was so happy when her husband got his citizenship in 1996 by studying at the Altus Adult Education program. Since her husband and two of her three children were American citizens, she was inspired to achieve her goal.
“I was so impressed with her dedication to study,” said Mrs. Burchett. “Even when she had to work overtime and miss tutoring, she still set aside time to come later. I could tell that she studied outside our tutoring sessions.”
Her immigration test was scheduled in June 2013. She practiced and memorized the answers in English. Her amazing dedication proved to be successful in passing the quiz.
“I am thankful to God for having such a committed student,” stated Mrs. Burchett. “At the ceremony, Genoveva complimented me on her tutoring, but I told her that she deserved all the praise for her hard work in learning the required materials in reading, writing, and speaking the English language. It was a hard pathway, but she took it one day at a time. I, along with the Great Plains Literacy Council, am proud of her success through literacy.”