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On their way to becoming American citizens

Workshop for MIT employees helps eligible individuals apply for U.S. citizenship.
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Left to right: HR volunteers Sarah Peterson and Theresa Howell with MIT research scientist Islam Hussein and his wife Randa Azab.
Left to right: HR volunteers Sarah Peterson and Theresa Howell with MIT research scientist Islam Hussein and his wife Randa Azab.

The process to become an American citizen probably isn’t something many of us think about unless we have personal experience with it.

On Wednesday, Nov. 16, more than 100 MIT employees had that personal experience. That day, MIT Human Resources (HR) sponsored a citizenship application workshop for MIT employees in collaboration with Project Citizenship, a Boston nonprofit that helps individuals who have green-cards and who meet other requirements to apply for citizenship. 

More than 60 volunteers from HR partnered with 55 eligible employees from across the Institute to fill out the application. This workshop evolved from a conversation Vice President for Human Resources Lorraine A. Goffe-Rush had with Project Citizenship last summer. “After learning more about the opportunity to assist our employees with the complicated task of applying for citizenship, it became clear it was a match with MIT’s core values and HR’s goal of participating in meaningful community service,” said Goffe-Rush.

Not surprisingly, the day-long workshop — consisting of three different shifts of volunteers and employees filling out applications — was profound for both sets of employees. MIT Research Scientist Islam Hussein and his wife Randa Azab attended the workshop and were grateful to both Project Citizenship and HR: “Project Citizenship’s expert input, friendly dialogue, and supportive attitude made the lengthy process of filling out our citizenship application a lot easier,” said Hussein. “We would like also to thank MIT Human Resources for hosting this excellent workshop; it is a great service for all MIT employees seeking citizenship.”

The employees from HR (and two employees from MIT Facilities) who volunteered their time took their assignments seriously. Chuck Pizzano, an HR senior business systems analyst, summed it up for many of the volunteers: “It isn’t an easy application to fill out, so I was glad I could help a fellow MIT colleague go through it. Despite the complexity of the task, it was fun.”

After the applications were filled out, the applicants met with lawyers who volunteer with Project Citizenship to finalize their applications. Now that the application workshop is over, the next steps take place over six to seven months and include fingerprinting, attending an interview and taking three tests, and participating in the naturalization ceremony where new citizens take the oath of allegiance. Safe to say that come springtime, there will be several MIT employees who will identify themselves as American citizens for the first time.

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