Taking the American test

Coastline Community College offers grant-backed program to smooth the path to citizenship.

October 19, 2011|By Mona Shadia
  • Phan Phuong, left, and her sister Phan Trang of Westminster attend an English as a Second Language class together at Coastline Community College.
Phan Phuong, left, and her sister Phan Trang of Westminster… (STEVEN GEORGES,…)

After three years in the United States, Nadia Boukris is ready to become a citizen.

And she plans on doing so by taking advantage of a new program to prepare her for the American citizenship exam and process.

Boukris, 35, immigrated from Algeria three years ago with her family. The Anaheim resident began taking English classes at an adult school, but later enrolled at Coastline Community College, where her English has seen a dramatic shift for the better, she said.

On Nov. 4, she plans to start the new Bridge to Citizenship program at Coastline's Westminster campus. The 12-week program is free to students who apply, and the goal is to learn about U.S. history, fill out the N-400 application form and practice answering the most frequent questions that might be asked during the exam portion of the process, said Linda Kuntzman, director of the English as a Second Language Department at Coastline.


Boukris said she feels ready to start preparing for the citizenship process.

The college just received $150,000 in grants from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to launch Bridge to Citizenship. The grant will cover the books, teachers and staff time to run the program for the next two years, said English teacher Lorraine Krampe. There will be no fee associated with the program for students.

"It's very exciting for all of us," Krampe said. "We can help our students take the next step."

Throughout the two years, the school plans to enroll 540 students in the program with the goal of having 75% pass the citizenship exam, Kuntzman said.

"The goal is to have enough knowledge to pass the test," she said. "We're hoping students will be able to take the test within four to six months from their start of the program, and we will help them with that."

Though she entered the United States with a green card, which allows her to work and live legally, Boukris said getting her citizenship will offer her more opportunities and help her become more integrated into society.

"I'll feel more American, like this is my home, and it's for my kids, too," she said.

Twitter: @MonaShadia

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