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After 2 years of study, Albion woman earns American citizenship

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 January 2020 at 9:15 am

Mother of 4 works as supervisor at Intergrow Greenhouses

Photo by Tom Rivers: Rosa Santiago, in back, is joined by her daughters during a celebration on Monday after she passed her American citizenship test. Rosa’s daughters include, from left: Tiffany, Michelle and Alexis.

WATERPORT – Rosa Santiago was celebrated on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, for earning her American citizenship.

Santiago, an Albion resident the past 13 years, passed the citizenship test last Wednesday. She will be sworn in as a new American during a ceremony on Feb. 27 at the U.S. Courthouse in Buffalo.

Santiago, 38, started taking English classes at the World Life Institute in Waterport about two years ago. She also studied American history and prepared for the civics test she needed to pass to become an American.

Her teachers and classmates threw a party for her at the school on Stillwater Road, where she has taken classes on Monday and Wednesday evenings the past two years.

Santiago, a supervisor at Intergrow Greenhouses, said she was motivated by her four children to learn English and pass the test. She has a son, 18, and three daughters, ages 9, 12 and 14.

She has been in the area for the past 13 years, working in agriculture. She was at Lake Ontario Fruit, an apple packing facility in Albion, before going to Intergrow.

A native of Mexico, Santiago said earning her American citizenship gives her security to stay in the country with her family. She also looks forward to voting and having a US Passport.

Cheryl Lieberman, one of Santiago’s teachers, praised Santiago’s persistence in learning English and preparing for the citizenship exam.

“Do not be fooled by this tiny, shy, young lady,” Lieberman said during a celebration for Santiago on Monday. “She has tremendous strength inside of her and a determination.”

Santiago went to her classes on the two evenings each week after a full shift at work.

“Rosa maintained the strong desire to pass this test and she let nothing discourage her from achieving that goal,” Lieberman said. “She fought for it and never gave up.”

Santiago is the 12th student from the World Life Institute to earn American citizenship since 2010. She said seeing the other students reach that goal was a strong motivator and encouragement for her.

WLI runs the program with support from the Orleans-Niagara BOCES Continuing Education. Sue Diemert, a literacy specialist for the program, said the World Life Institute staff are dedicated and caring teachers. She praised Santiago for her success with the program.

“We celebrate out students and our new citizens,” Diemert said.

Provided photo: The staff at the World Life Institute in Waterport celebrated Rosa Santiago on Monday evening. Pictured from left include Linda Redfield, a teacher at WLI; Monica Beck, a teacher; Rosa Santiago; Rosa’s daughters, Tiffany, Michelle and Alexis; and teachers, Gejlana Carter, Harris Lieberman and Malvy Rivera.

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