Immigrant stories: Alma Hernandez

Published by Program Manager on

Immigrant stories: Alma Hernandez

Before immigrating to the United States, Alma Hernandez lived in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. She remembers it as a place of limited opportunities. Not only was the city an unsafe place to live, but she was also unable to find a job to support her family. In 1991, Alma’s father was able to bring her family to the United States, and she has remained in this country since then. Today, Alma lives in San Antonio with her husband and their four children. Her husband works as an automobile mechanic, while she works as a food service assistant in a middle school. When asked about her favorite part of living in the United States, Alma said that she appreciates the nice weather, the kind people, and the safety she feels in Texas. Compared to her former hometown, Alma feels that San Antonio is safer and has more economic and educational opportunities for herself and her family.

During our conversation, Alma brightened up whenever she mentioned her children. Her youngest daughter (8), who is currently in elementary school, sat in on our conversation, listening closely and occasionally translating a few words in Spanish for her mother. Her son (16) is in high school and her second oldest daughter (20), inspired by her family’s journey to citizenship, is studying immigration at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. Her oldest daughter (22) is currently serving in the U.S. Navy. For Alma, the educational and career opportunities that the United States offers to her children are part of her motivation for pursuing citizenship. She would do anything for her children and is so proud of what they have accomplished. By becoming a U.S. citizen, she can continue to stay in Texas to support her family.

Since September 2021, Alma has been participating in BIIN’s citizenship classes in English, to prepare for her naturalization exam. While the pandemic has led BIIN to offer these classes online through Zoom, Alma and other students have been able to learn remotely from the comfort of their own homes. Thanks to the lessons taught by volunteers each week, Alma believes that she is better prepared for her exam. She appreciates the classes as they help her improve her speaking and comprehension skills in English, while enabling her to go over the exam material with volunteers. Alma also points out that the study guide that BIIN provides for students is very helpful, as it makes it easier for her to review the questions outside of class. Ultimately, BIIN’s citizenship classes have helped Alma feel more confident in taking her exam and she would definitely recommend them to any person planning on becoming a citizen.

Like many other prospective new citizens, Alma is driven by the dream of a better life for herself and her family. And her journey to U.S. citizenship via naturalization reminds us that this dream is attainable with dedication and determination.

Thanks to Isabella Embile, fall 2021 citizenship intern, for crafting this portrait of Alma Hernandez.