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Citizenship Day paves the way for immigrants

January 19, 1998


WALTHAM, Mass. -- As U.S. immigration laws add to the cost and time it takes to apply for citizenship, Bentley College recently offered immigrants a free and fast means to work through the process. More than 140 people from 32 countries -- a 40 percent increase over last year -- defied snow and ice on a Saturday morning to attend Bentley's second Citizenship Day. Eighty students, trained by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and working with attorneys who answered legal questions, helped immigrants complete the N-400 form for citizenship, assisted with the fingerprinting and photographs required, organized transportation from local communities and publicized the event through Boston-area radio stations and newspapers.

Large numbers of Vietnamese and Haitians as well as people from Guatemala, El Salvador, Armenia and Russia sought assistance at the event. Unexpected among those applying for citizenship were three professors, one staff member and several students. "I think that the day acted as a catalyst for me," says Professor of Marketing Baba Verma, who originally hails from India. "It finally got me moving. It forced me to put all my materials together -- something I'd avoided for a long time. The students were helpful and supportive; they made the process as painless as possible."

Assistant Professor of Government Robert Koulish, who plans to conduct Citizenship Day once a semester, says the program teaches students to see the theoretical and practical connections between their courses and everyday experience. "Citizenship Day also provides a cross-disciplinary approach to learning, which is often lacking in higher education," says Koulish. The event is sponsored by the Bentley Immigrant Assistance Program, one of dozens of projects organized by students in the Bentley Service-Learning Center.

BENTLEY UNIVERSITY is one of the nation’s leading business schools, dedicated to preparing a new kind of business leader – one with the deep technical skills, broad global perspective, and high ethical standards required to make a difference in an ever-changing world. Our rich, diverse arts and sciences program, combined with an advanced business curriculum, prepares informed professionals who make an impact in their chosen fields. Located on a classic New England campus minutes from Boston, Bentley is a dynamic community of leaders, scholars and creative thinkers. The Graduate School emphasizes the impact of technology on business practice, in offerings that include MBA and Master of Science programs, PhD programs in accountancy and in business, and customized executive education programs. The university enrolls approximately 4,100 full-time undergraduate, 140 adult part-time undergraduate, 1,430 graduate, and 43 doctoral students. Bentley is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges; AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business; and the European Quality Improvement System, which benchmarks quality in management and business education. For more information, please visit

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