The process of becoming an American citizen involves learning quite a bit about the nation’s history, culture and more.
On Constitution Day yesterday, Pittsburg State University student Kavita Sharma, who is a junior studying accounting, celebrated her upcoming opportunity to become an American citizen.
Kavita will take her oath of citizenship next Friday at the Fort Scott National Historic Site.
She and her family moved to the United States from Trinidad and Tobago, a set of small Caribbean islands, when she was less than four years old, and when her younger brother, Avi, was one.
"It was probably, maybe opportunities for us," Kavita said of the move.
She said the family lived in the United States for a few years before beginning the path toward citizenship, and began working their way down that path in about 2000.
However, they faced setbacks when Kavita and Avi’s father died, and again when their mother got remarried in the mid-2000s.
However, last year the process got moving quickly.
"She filed for hers in September and I filed for mine in May," Kavita said about she and her mother preparing for citizenship.
Avi, who now is a freshman studying marketing at Pitt State, did not have to go through the process to become a citizen.
"I found it interesting that people under the age of 18 got in," he said, adding that he became a legal citizen when his mom did.
However, Kavita has been through the entire paperwork process.
"Because I was an adult I had to go ahead and do it myself," she said, adding that she went to Wichita for fingerprinting and Kansas City for her test.
However, answering six questions about the country correctly was the least difficult part of the process, which included a lengthy drive on a rainy day.
"America’s all I know," Kavita said. "I was like, we’ve talked about this, we’ve talked about that."
"I answered my first six right, so that was it," she said.
"Growing up here definitely makes it a lot easier," Kavita continued, adding that it is nice to formally become a citizen.
The two don’t yet know whether they will be solely American citizens or whether the government will grant dual citizenship.
But, both said that while they are proud of their heritage, they also identify the United States as home.
"I’ve been here 17 years, so it’s just like home," Avi said. "Of course, Trinidad still has a place in my heart."
Page 2 of 2 - "To finally become and be one of them ... you always feel like an outsider," Kavita said of the dream and the feeling of not being a citizen.
On a day when the Pittsburg community had the opportunity to go to the polls to determine a public safety sales tax, Kavita said she looks forward to being able to do so as well.
"It will be nice to know that I can vote," she said. "I will be able to write citizen instead of permanent resident."
Avi said even though he didn’t have to go through the same process as his sister he is glad to be a citizen.
"I was just glad it’s now, not later on," he said.
As Kavita has prepared to become an American citizen, she said she’s also had the support of friends, family and more, with people around her quizzing her about American history.
"Actually, by everyone, because even in my office they ask me questions," Kavita said.
Sam Bogle, a fellow employee of the Advising/Enactus office, begged to differ.
"She was quizzing me, and I was like, ‘I don’t know,’" Bogle said, adding that it quickly became apparent that her friend had worked and studied hard for her test.