This month’s Ambassadors of the Month are the volunteers with InStepp’s Citizenship Class, a new 12-week program aimed at helping to prepare those interested in becoming naturalized U.S. citizens for taking and passing the citizenship test.
The trial class was a success and another class is scheduled to begin in August.
Among the volunteers who helped teach the class was Mary Grey Erwin, a native of Charlotte who moved to Durham last year after living in many places for the previous 10 years, including Honduras, Costa Rica, and New York. Mary holds a master’s degree in international education from New York University and works with the Executive MBA program at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business (although she admits to being a ‘Carolina girl’ who will never be able to cheer for the Blue Devils).
Mary is part of a large family who all live in North Carolina, and she enjoys “having a blast” with her family members. She stays active by running, participating in triathlons, and doing yoga. She also enjoys bluegrass music and the occasional good bourbon. Mary served as a Peace Corps volunteer and became involved in the Citizenship program because of her interest in working with people from other cultures. In the past, she has volunteered with the Leukemia Society and the Mary Claire Satterly Foundation.
Brian Wilcox grew up in the Norfolk-Virginia Beach area of Virginia and moved to the Triangle area in 1999. He is married with several children, is an avid runner, and active in the Christ Central Church of Durham. Brian works for a large North Carolina-based laboratory testing company, where he runs operations for a drug testing facility.
Brian has been a volunteer through his church throughout his years in the area and learned about InStepp and the Citizenship Program through his neighbor, InStepp CEO Gilda Womble. He has enjoyed working with the students in the citizenship class and seeing their enthusiasm as they learn about American civics, history, and customs.
Sonia Dewett is a first-generation American from India who lives in Cary with her parents, younger sister, and grandparents. She graduated from Campbell University in December 2013 and works at the American Institute of CPAs as a credential, membership and section advisor.
Sonia’s motivation for volunteering with InStepp and the Citizenship Program stem from when she was in high school and helped her mother study for the citizenship exam. She says working with the Citizenship Program has taught her to be patient and to concentrate on the needs of the students—who are focused on gaining the skills to pass the citizenship test rather than on simply teaching. American history. In the past, she has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity.
Sonia describes herself as a Netflix “binge watcher” who also loves being out in the sun, while her friends describe her as down to earth and able to connect and communicate with anyone.