TPHS students help local immigrants become U.S. citizens
Three Torrey Pines High School seniors have been volunteering with Pathways to Citizenship, a nonprofit legal agency in Solana Beach, to help lawful permanent residents become United States citizens.
Jasmine Criqui, Brenda Jimenez Lopez and Satya Vargas all tutor Pathways to Citizenship’s clients in civics and English to prepare them for their citizenship interviews with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Jasmine Criqui has been been volunteering with Pathways to Citizenship for almost three years, first as a tutor, then as the citizenship class coordinator at the Solana Beach Library, and currently as both a tutor and educational programs assistant.
“The highlight of my volunteer experience is when one of my students passes their citizenship exam,” she says. “It’s such a moment of celebration and catharsis for everyone involved. Working with Pathways has provided me with a way to give back to my community and taught me the value of civic engagement.”
In addition to volunteering with Pathways, Jasmine is the editor-in-chief of the Torrey Pines High School newspaper, the Falconer, and interns for her congressional representative. She says, “Working with the wonderful DOJ-accredited representatives at Pathways has inspired me to pursue a career in law after college.”
Brenda Jimenez Lopez has been volunteering with Pathways since March 2020 as a citizenship tutor, and, more recently, as a legal assistant to the agency’s legal director and DOJ-accredited legal representatives.
“Working in the Pathways office, meeting clients and getting to know them, their stories, and seeing their excitement to become a U.S. citizen is incredible,” says Brenda. “To be a part of this feels amazing.”
In addition to volunteering with Pathways, Brenda runs for the TPHS cross country and track and field teams, founded and leads the TPHS Spanish Honor Society and works part-time at the Marriott Hotel. She notes that she has “personal ties to immigration, which is why I love this organization and its mission so much.” She is considering a career in international or immigration law after college.
Satya Vargas volunteers as both a Citizenship and an English as a Second Language (ESL) tutor, as well as helping as a student liaison for both programs.
“It’s incredibly moving when our students return to class as United States citizens and share their stories,” says Satya. “Being part of such a supportive community of lawyers, tutors, and students is inspiring. Everyone is dedicated to helping our students succeed.”
In addition to volunteering with Pathways, Satya is a member of the TPHS cross country and track and field teams, Academic Team, the Japanese National Honor Society, and along with Brenda, founded and leads the Spanish Honor Society. She plans to pursue linguistics in college, with the goal of earning a graduate degree and working in academia.
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