Three high school students from Torrey Pines High School volunteered for Pathways to Citizenship, a Solana Beach nonprofit legal agency, to help lawful permanent residents become U.S. citizens.
Jasmine Criqui, Brenda Jimenez Lopez, and Satya Vargas all taught Civics and English to Pathways to Citizenship clients to prepare them for their citizenship interviews with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) .
Jasmine Criqui has volunteered with Pathways to Citizenship for almost three years, first as a tutor, then as the Citizenship Course Coordinator at the Solana Beach Library, and currently as a Tutor and Program Assistant educational.
“The highlight of my volunteering experience is when one of my students passes their citizenship test,” she says. “It is 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 has taught me the value of civic engagement.
In addition to volunteering with Pathways, Jasmine is the editor-in-chief of Torrey Pines high school newspaper, The Falconer, and intern for its representative to Congress. She says, “Working with the wonderful DOJ-accredited representatives at Pathways inspired me to pursue a career in law after college. “
Brenda Jimenez Lopez has been volunteering for Pathways since March 2020 as a Citizenship Guardian and most recently as Legal Assistant to the Agency’s Legal Director and DOJ-accredited legal representatives.
“Working in the Pathways office, meeting and getting to know clients, get to know their stories and see their enthusiasm in becoming an American citizen is amazing,” says Brenda. “To be a part of this is amazing.”
In addition to volunteering with Pathways, Brenda runs for the TPHS Cross Country and Track teams, founded and runs 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 law or immigration law after university.
Satya Vargas volunteers both as a citizenship and English as a second language (ESL) tutor, as well as a student liaison for both programs.
“It’s incredibly moving when our students return to class as American citizens and share their stories,” says Satya. “Being part of such a supportive community of lawyers, tutors and students is inspiring. Everyone is committed to helping our students succeed.
In addition to volunteering with Pathways, Satya is a member of the TPHS Cross Country and Track teams, the Academic Team, the Japanese National Honor Society and, along with Brenda, founded and directs the Spanish Honor Society. . She plans to pursue studies in linguistics at university, with the aim of obtaining a graduate degree and working in academia.