Students Create Citizenship Study Guide in Spanish

By Veronique Masterson

UTEP News Service

It was a fulfilling Summer I session for more than a dozen American Government students at The University of Texas at El Paso.

In May 2012, the executive director of the Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services, Inc. approached the students’ instructor, Irasema Coronado, Ph.D., UTEP professor of political science, seeking more material in Spanish for the older Hispanic generations preparing for the citizenship exam.Students in Irasema Coronado's American Government summer course created a Spanish study guide for the citizenship test. Photo by Laura Trejo / UTEP News Service

Coincidentally, Coronado was teaching the American Government class in Spanish and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to have the class compile a study guide as one of its assignments, while learning about the American government.

The 14 students spent their Summer Session answering and translating six to seven questions which were included in the study guide, “A Guide to Naturalization in Spanish: Preparing for Naturalization.”

"We're not just doing something for our grades, but we're helping other people," said Luisa Cabrera, a senior mechanical engineering student.

The project was presented to the public and media on July 3 in an event that was presented in Spanish.

The guide was written as a response to the large number of older Hispanic persons applying for citizenship. In order to become a citizen, a 55-year-old must have been a permanent resident for at least 15 years, or a 50-year-old must have been a permanent resident for at least 20 years; essentially, the age and years of residency must total at least 70.

"This guide is meant to help people study and prepare for the citizenship exam in Spanish. It's a gift to the community from my class," Coronado said.

The guide will be available to the public on the UTEP Political Science website at academics.utep.edu/politicalscience and the Center for Civic Engagement website at academics.utep.edu/cce.