MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. -- Teresita Wisell, a Westchester Community College administrator, was honored at a White House ceremony on Wednesday, Oct. 22, for her role as a "Champion of Change" for promoting citizenship in the workplace.
"It is such an honor for me to receive this White House Champion of Change Award on behalf of the work that we do at Westchester Community College to support citizenship education of our employees, students and their families,” said Wisell, a White Plains resident. “Community colleges have the power to positively impact the lives of thousands of individuals on a daily basis in a variety of ways. It is a privilege for us to be part of the National Immigration Forum's New American Workforce project and play a part in the pathway to citizenship for so many of our local residents."
Wisell is vice president and dean of Continuing Education and Workforce Development at Westchester Community College. In that role, she oversees the Gateway Center, a facility opened in 2010 to expand educational programs and services to the local community.
Among other offerings and resources, the facility hosts English language classes, entrepreneurship and financial literacy programs, and citizenship and civic education. Since 2011, the college has offered free civics education to over 250 residents of the county. Of those participating, 60 percent have applied for citizenship, and 96 percent of those who have applied have been naturalized.
She was among five “New American Workforce” Partners for Promoting Citizenship in the Workplace individuals honored at the ceremony.
Eileen McKee, Westchester Community College Welcome Center director, was instrumental in helping to coordinate the citizenship education program with Wisell.
A project of the National Immigration Forum, New American Workforce (formerly known as The Bethlehem Project) works with businesses to assist eligible immigrant employees with the citizenship process in seven cities with high concentrations of legal permanent residents: Los Angeles; San Diego; San Jose; New York City; Miami; Washington, D.C.; and Houston.
According to the White House, “These champions have strengthened their businesses and the American workforce by helping eligible immigrants navigate the naturalization application process. These champions recognize that citizenship is an asset for businesses, workers and their families, strengthening our overall economy.”
The program featured remarks from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Small Business Administration Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet.