Kearns Elementary School Celebrates Parent Volunteer’s US Citizenship
KEARNS, Utah — Children at a Kearns elementary school celebrated one of their parent volunteers who just became a United States citizen.
Ben Garcia has devoted countless hours volunteering at the Beehive Elementary School. He started out helping in his son’s class but said he was hooked when he noticed the need for parent-teacher translators.
Garcia has worked hard to accomplish his goals.
“I’m just happy to be done,” he said. “It was a long journey.”
Garcia’s journey started when he was just 9-years-old after his parents and sibling came to the United States from Mexico.
“Once the DACA came in, I went back to high school and got my high school diploma,” he said.
He has now achieved what he considers to be the dream of a lifetime.
“Their spelling is just really cute,” Garcia said as he looked at the student’s cards.
The cards were made just for him.
“I remember my mom and dad saying, ‘No quiero que seas como nosotros (we don’t want you to be like us, we want you to be better than us),’ and I’m honoring them by doing something,” he said.
Last week, Garcia finally became a United States Citizen.
“A lot of people that have accomplished this goal can tell you the same thing — you feel free!” he said. “I’m also the first to be a citizen in my family.”
To make up for not having a traditional ceremony due to the pandemic, the kids at Beehive Elementary School where Garcia volunteers gave him quite the surprise.
“It was just great! Even now, I don’t have the words to express the emotions I was going through at that time,” said Garcia.
Garcia said it wasn’t just about the balloons and congratulations.
“In this school, there’s so many ethnic groups, and the fact that all these kids welcomed me, it meant a lot because they are the future,” he said.
As Garcia looks forward to this new chapter in his life, he said he’s not done working towards his dreams.
“That’s one step, and then from there, the sky’s the limit,” he said.
Garcia works full-time as a contractor, but he said he plans on continuing to pay it forward at the school.
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