Ambica’s Testimony: DC New American Workforce Participant

Ambica Prakash and her husband started their company Eighty2degrees in 2010. They started Eighty2degrees because they “wanted there to be no disconnect between their personal values and the work they do” and to “amplify the positive and progressive work of others in order to help the world” by collaborating with non-profits, cultural institutions, and government agencies working on creating stronger communities.

Ambica loves her work as it gives her the opportunity to choose what organizations her company wants to work with and decide what causes they want to magnify and contribute to. She tells us, “I feel that I am making a difference or hope that I am, that I’m using my skills to amplify other voices and causes with the skills and expertise my team brings to the table.”

Ms. Prakash came to the United States in 1999 with an offer from her uncle to live with him and his family and to continue her education in America. At the time, this coincided with Ambica’s studies in France on a scholarship where she was participating in an exchange program with the French Embassy. Her uncle’s offer was the first step in exploring the United States.

Ambica has had her green card since 2011 and it was not until this past year that she decided to apply for citizenship. She tells us, “I decided to apply for citizenship this past year because I was coming up on 20 years living in the US. Now my life is here; I have a husband and a family. Given my work, life, kids, and family, it just made sense to take that next step to citizenship. Additionally, given the current political turmoil and changes in immigration policy, it helped spur that thought into action to make sure that we felt safe and secure as a family in this country.”

She waited to apply for her citizenship because of the time commitment of the paperwork. She says of the process, “[It] intimidated me. It is just one of those things I would always question about acting on and whether I really needed it. Being an entrepreneur with a family, I just never had the time to devote to the process of becoming a citizen.”

Ambica heard about the citizenship workshops through her husband and the Mayor’s Office on Asian & Pacific Islander Affairs (MOAPIA) monthly newsletter that spoke about the grant and citizenship workshop initiative. With her husband’s encouragement, Ambica went to the information session.

When asked about her experience with the New American Workforce citizenship program, Ambica says, “Everybody from your organization [Forum] and the Mayor’s Office explained the process to me very clearly and were very proactive in following up which was awesome.  The process was very smooth, and I was pleasantly surprised.  My general expectation of working on governmental filings was that it would be filled with hurdles and obstacles. This was straightforward which gave me the confidence that my application was in good hands and a top priority.”

Ambica took her Naturalization Oath of Allegiance on January 14, 2020 just over 20 years of being in the United States. Ambica says of this great milestone, “I have the right to vote and I think it is exciting and empowering.” Not only has her citizenship impacted her personally, but she also says, “Now that I am a U.S. citizen, my business can be certified as a woman-owned and minority-owned business, which will be an interesting process to go through. I hope it will open new doors and opportunities for me and my social impact design studio.”

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