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From Class Papers to Citizenship Papers: Fisher Student Earns U.S. Citizenship

October 4, 2022

Faculty members at St. John Fisher University pride themselves on the personal connections they make with students. Their mission is to help students appreciate all that there is in education. Dr. Jane Snyder from the School of Arts and Sciences is a prime example.

Jane Snyder and Claudia Lola

Snyder, experiential learning coordinator and visiting instructor from the Legal Studies Department has been at Fisher for 13 years teaching legal studies and a course on the philosophy of education. 

“A philosopher once described this idea of an accident with awareness, and that is what I feel like happened to me because if I wasn’t open to teaching then, I wouldn’t be here now and this is really something I appreciate,” said Snyder. “Every day of my life, I can come to work and enjoy what I do, work with students, and really it is very special.” 

The mission of her Philosophy of Education course is to prove that education is more than just sitting in a classroom. Snyder wants students to learn because it is fun and not all about tests and examinations. 

“I actually want them to learn because it’s something that makes you a full person,” she said. “And if my students could walk away with anything from Philosophy of Education it would be that education isn’t just about sitting in seats and having material thrown at you. It’s actually about trying to learn.” 

One of the first assignments in the course prompts students to share their personal journey of education. Not only does this paper set the pace for the rest of the course but it also helps Snyder get to know her students. In some instances, students feel very comfortable sharing their experiences, and this creates an opportunity for something extraordinary, as it did for Claudia Lola ’23. 

A computer science and cybersecurity double major, Lola was in the spring 2022 section of Snyder’s Philosophy of Education course and wrote her educational journey paper on wanting to become a U.S. citizen. Lola comes to the U.S. from the DRC Congo and now lives in Rochester with her family. Lola said that Fisher’s smaller class sizes have made her feel more comfortable with speaking out to her peers and sharing information about her personal life and experiences with her instructors. 

Gaining U.S. citizenship was very important to Lola. First, her professional career in the computer science and cybersecurity fields is dependent on her citizenship status. Second, she wanted to familiarize herself with the citizenship process to educate those in her community who may also have an interest in becoming a citizen. 

In addition to teaching the Philosophy of Education, Snyder instructs legal studies courses and helps students find internships. When reading Lola’s journey of education paper, Snyder thought of past students she knew that worked with legal aid. 

“I know they do immigration work and I found it to be a really nice serendipitous moment where maybe we could help Lola get her citizenship and it worked,” Snyder explained. 

Fast forward to summer 2022, with the help of Snyder and a few Fisher connections, Lola became an official U.S. citizen.  

“I took Philosophy of Education and it changed my perspective on a lot of things. Now I can recognize other students' opinions and not disagree with them. Instead, I’ve learned to take time to hear what they have to say and then share my perspective without worrying about trying to change what they think,” said Lola.