Friday, October 2, 2015

Free Citizenship Education Changing Lives in San Diego

SDCE student Abbo Abakar arrived in the US as a refugee from Sudan. 
He left his country to escape war and violence, “I came here to get freedom. 
Now I am a US citizen, and now I have freedom.”
“Repeat after me,” is usually the first statement from a US Citizen and Immigration Services agent who leads groups of people toward US Citizenship with an Oath of Allegiance. Next you hear a chorus of people break through exploding silence with “I hereby declare, on oath…” and so it begins.

Some of the very first classes offered by San Diego Continuing Education (SDCE) back in 1914 were free classes to help new immigrants achieve citizenship. Those classes are still being offered today, and are some of the few that have been offered continuously for more than 100 years.

“SDCE prepares students with the education and skills needed to compete in the local economy and live productive lives,” said Dr. Brian Ellison, Vice President of Instruction and Student Services at SDCE. “Class offerings have changed throughout the years to meet the needs of the community, but priorities have always included classes in basic skills—including how to speak English—short-term job training, and citizenship.”

SDCE’s free citizenship classes serve approximately 500 San Diegans annually at six campuses by helping students prepare for citizenship. Preparation classes cover the overall application process and provide practice with the questions and information students can expect during their official oral interview. See a schedule of free classes.

“Citizenship changes lives,” said Mechelle Perrott, an SDCE Citizenship instructor. “Achieving citizenship is a big accomplishment for both students and their families. To hear about their lives before, why they want to become citizens, and then to know we are helping them achieve something very significant that will impact their lives in a profound and lasting way, is very rewarding.”

According to statistics available from the official website of the Department of Homeland Security, in 2013, California topped the list of US states where legal permanent residents settle. The top five states include California (19.4%), New York (13.5%), Florida (10.4%), Texas (9.4%) and New Jersey (5.4%).

San Diego Continuing Education is the adult education division of the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD).

SDCE was one of the first continuing education institutions in California to meet the standards for independent accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Nearly 50,000 students are served per academic year at six campuses in San Diego. Noncredit classes are available at no cost, including online options.

Short-term certificate programs are offered for numerous industries including: Automotive Technician, Child Development, Culinary Arts, Nursing Assistant training, Professional Bakeshop Skills, and Plumbing. Classes are free because San Diego Continuing Education is part of the California system of higher education. Funding also comes through business and industry partnerships. Learn more at

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment.