In Dr. Rita Urquijo-Ruiz’s class at Trinity University, students are learning Spanish culture; her expertise. But, Urquijo-Ruiz’s story spans two cultures. She arrived to California from Mexico at the age of 16.
"I was supposed to come to the U.S. with a visitor’s visa, learn English in a few years and then go back and become a bilingual secretary,” said Urquijo-Ruiz.
That did not happen, all because of a now repealed law.
"California, as a state, had a law that allowed undocumented students to go to the university and get a degree,” said Urquijo-Ruiz.
She did just that and later earned a doctorate degree from University of California San Diego. Now, the Trinity professor is taking the next step. On Thursday, she will receive her U.S. Citizenship at a ceremony on the Trinity campus.
"I couldn't be more excited than to have it at my own campus,” said Urquijo-Ruiz.
She also views it as an opportunity.
"Especially as a Latina; as someone from a group of voters that is becoming bigger and bigger; having a bigger voice. I wanted to be a part of that."
Urquijo-Ruiz also wants to be part of the conversation on challenging issues like immigration. She has not forgotten about that California law that helped her along.
"Nothing would make me happier than to see something similar to the Dream Act pass and supported,” she said.
Urquijo-Ruiz will join hundreds on Thursday for the naturalization ceremony.