Millennial Must-Reads are student-contributed posts by members of the "Millennial" generation - America's 18-29 year-olds - on current events and politics and public service. Viewpoints expressed are exclusively attributed to undergraduate authors and not endorsed by Harvard's Institute of Politics.
Authored by Anna Menzel
The IOP Citizenship Program in collaboration with the Bridge Program at the Office for Workplace Development celebrated 25 new American citizens on April 2nd. This annual celebration commends the journey that each of these Harvard employees took to become a U.S. citizen. The ultimate satisfaction is seeing the smiling faces of these individuals as they were awarded their certificates in front a crowd including President Faust, Bridge Program staff, tutors, family and friends. Our tutors in collaboration with the Bridge Program were able to dramatically touch the lives of 25 individuals in a fundamental way, and that was just this year.
I came to this program my freshmen year looking for something that would fulfill my passion for politics and public service. After meeting the current chair, I knew I had found a home. This program encapsulates the best that Harvard has to offer, serving our community and making an impact on our nation, one citizen at a time.
Last year my tutee Luis passed the test after a prolonged journey of overcoming many obstacles upon entering the United States and through the process of the test itself. The first time I met with Luis I found out that he had already applied for and received a date for his test. It was a month away.
Luis was an avid learner, but starting from an intermediate English level with no knowledge of the civics questions, posed quite a challenge. Another tutor and I decided to split the test so that one day a week I would work on civics, and the next day they would work on English reading and writing. The month flew by and soon it was the test day.
Luis had his interview, but did not pass. We hadn’t gotten to all 100 questions, and he hadn’t been able to correctly answer the questions he had been asked. In this situation, many others would have been disheartened, but Luis was more determined than ever. With renewed vigor, Luis learned all the questions and improved his reading and writing abilities, so the next month when he went in for his second test he was very prepared. This time he passed.
I remember him calling me right after he passed, and I could hear the excitement in his voice as he told me he passed. That moment is one I will never forget; we should never doubt the impact we can make on one person's life and the ripples it will create. Last years' celebration was extremely touching as I saw Luis accept his certificate. This year’s celebration was just as touching but in a different way.
As the current program chair I have watched the students of the program dedicate themselves to the success of their tutees. It was a wonderful moment to see their investment and hard work pay off, and the same feeling I had a year before reflected in their eyes.
Anna Menzel is originally from Duluth, Minnesota and is a sophomore in Adams House. She has been involved in the IOP since her freshmen fall and is now chair of the Citizenship Program, which matches Harvard employees with students to tutor to pass their citizenship test. Anna is passionate about both politics and public service, which is why she is interested in attending law school and eventually running for elected office.