Immigrant Stories: Sanjuana Rodriguez

Published by Program Manager on

Immigrant Stories: Sanjuana Rodriguez

Meet Sanjuana Rodriguez, or “Jenny” as her friends and family call her. Sanjuana was born and raised in Juarez, Mexico. Despite being surrounded by her family, friends, and the life she established for herself, her concern with security in Juarez was the deciding factor in Sanjuana’s decision to move to the United States with her husband and her 4 children in April 2010, when she was 34 years old.

Sanjuana remembers a recurring feeling of uncertainty when she moved to the United States, as she faced many hindrances: she did not speak English, she had not yet obtained a work permit, and despite moving with her 4 children, she felt increasingly homesick. All of Sanjuana’s other family members still lived in Juarez except for her sister, who lives in Bryan. Sanjuana and her family moved to Bryan in order to be close to her, and they began to establish their lives in the United States.

Life in Bryan brought a peaceful change of pace for Sanjuana and her family. She recalls the security of the area being a welcome change, appreciating that she and her family could walk in places like the park and on the sidewalks without worrying about being in danger. When she’s not working and the weather permits, Sanjuana enjoys family outings like taking walks in the park and going fishing. Sanjuana and her family also like to travel during vacation periods. They often visit the beach and water parks during the summer and amusement parks like Disney World!

Living in the United States for the past 12 years has allowed for more opportunities for Sanjuana and her family, particularly for her 4 children. With the conditions she and her husband have given them, Sanjuana hopes that her children will grow and prosper in whatever career and life path they choose to follow.

As for her own goals, Sanjuana hopes to learn more English and become a United States citizen. She has been attending BIIN’s citizenship classes in English to prepare for the civics portion of the USCIS naturalization interview, as well as to learn more about the naturalization process itself.

Sanjuana initially discovered BIIN’s English citizenship classes in July 2022 after seeing social media posts for them from BIIN, and she registered for the classes shortly afterwards. Before attending classes, Sanjuana was worried about her ability to understand various English accents, such as the southern accent common in Texas. However, she knew it was important to get accustomed to different English accents for her naturalization interview, as well as for everyday life. She began to attend citizenship classes in September 2022. 

Sanjuana likes that the citizenship class is centered on thorough but concise teaching of the content on the civics and history test that applicants must take during the naturalization interview. Rather than expecting them simply to memorize the exam material, this approach provides the students with a clear understanding of the concepts covered in the test, as well as a chance to interact with the material via writing, using flashcards, etc. Sanjuana likes this approach as she feels it improves her ability to really grasp the test material. She also thinks that the volunteers who work with the citizenship classes provide an extra layer of support, as they often clarify or further explain concepts taught in class as they work one on one with students in practice segments. She would like to thank the citizenship class teachers and volunteers for their dedication and hard work.

Sanjuana proudly displays her end of course certificate along with Jeremy Brett, longtime lead volunteer instructor for BIIN’s English citizenship classes.

As the citizenship classes come to a close for Fall 2022, Sanjuana plans to return to citizenship classes for additional practice in Spring 2023. She also hopes to join BIIN’s Conversational English classes. Sanjuana is grateful for the resources that BIIN provides, for they have aided her in taking steps towards reaching her goals of learning more English and becoming a U.S. citizen. She would like to thank BIIN’s teachers and volunteers for providing a safe and comfortable environment for her and other students to learn in.  

Special thanks to Fall 2022 citizenship and marketing intern Alyssa Mercado who interviewed Sanjuana and crafted this portrait of her.