The latest New Yorker of the Week keeps her students inspired, disclipined and determined on their road to their American dream. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.
Growing up, Laura Jimenez called two places home. Living at times in Mexico and the United States, she learned what new immigrants need.
"Everybody is important," Jimenez says. "No matter where you come from, no matter you know what your background is, you're a person. You deserve to be treated in a nice way."
Now, Laura is doing that and so much more. After fulfilling her dream of becoming a U.S. citizen, she's helping others.
Laura is the citizenship preparation instructor at the YMCA's New Americans Welcome Center on Staten Island. It's the borough she's lived in for almost 30 years.
"If you're a hard-working person, you can really achieve whatever you want," Jimenez says. "I have a lot of students who, after they became a citizen, they already set another goal, life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, and that doesn’t happen in another country."
"It's my dream, to be a U.S. citizen," says student Gleiry Canela.
Laura works to strengthen writing skills, improve interview techniques and test civics knowledge, all free of charge. 98 percent of those she's mentored have attained their citizenship.
"It feels good," says Arshia Lodhi, who received citizenship. "When I turn 18, I’m able to vote and be part of the nation."
"Laura is just an amazing individual who treats people as if they were her family," says Rachel Rinaldo, program coordinator with the New Americans Welcome Center. "She goes above and beyond for each individual. She'll take time out of her life to tutor them, to guide them, to support them."
Laura's support gives her students the confidence to achieve much more in life. Since 2012, she's made a difference in the lives of dozens of immigrants hailing from more than 25 countries.
"She inspires us by giving us a feeling of trust," student Nubia Perdomo said through an interpreter. "It's not easy at my age to become a citizen, but it's not impossible, either. She has a lot of patience and shows us how to overcome obstacles."
So, for helping her new neighbors feel right at home, Laura Jimenez is the New Yorker of the Week.
For more information about the YMCA's New Americans Welcome Center, visit ymcanyc.org.