Immigration Services at The Hope Center Expands
Left: Geeta Sharma, new Immigration Services Legal Assistant at The Hope Center, working in the office alongside BHITC’s Nick Tribuzzo, Manager of Legal Services
When Geeta Sharma walked into The Hope Center in 2016 to begin the process for U.S. citizenship, little did she know that two of her biggest dreams: to become an American citizen and to pursue her goal to be part of the legal field, were about to come true.
A strong family, an even stronger sense of personal motivation and a love of learning has shaped Geeta her whole life. They helped her survive becoming a child refugee in 1998 in Nepal and being sent by her family from Nepal to India for school, where she lived with her aunt.
In India, Geeta wanted to pursue her dream of going to law school, but education is prohibitively expensive, so she instead obtained an undergraduate degree in political science and was making progress toward her master’s. That’s when her family got word they would finally be resettled from Nepal to the United States, so she abandoned her educational pursuits and, in 2012, landed in Houston, Texas, with her mother, brother, sister-in-law and their two children.
Now a “refugee,” Geeta, like so many other displaced migrants before her, had to rely heavily upon her family bonds and personal resiliency to start life over again. Her job experience grew and revealed a continual capacity for learning and adaptability. She cleaned homes, worked in a manufacturing plant that assembled phones, then at a lab that tested fuel density, then for a leasing office, then as a cashier at Walmart.
“They were all good jobs where I learned a lot,” she says, “But I never gave up on my dream to one day be a lawyer.”
Life in America was a challenge, but was also proving to be good to Geeta and her family. However, Houston’s heat, high cost of living and flooding caused them to look elsewhere. They heard Nepali refugees were doing well in Cleveland, and in 2016, Geeta, her husband and family relocated to Northeast Ohio.
“Cleveland has been a better place for us to live,” Geeta says, “It’s smaller, which I like. And there was nothing in Houston like The Hope Center — a place where refugees can walk in and get the help they need that day.”
Geeta completed her U.S. citizenship process in 2017, making many new friends within BHITC as a result. In 2018, The Hope Center staff hosted a baby shower for Geeta at the birth of her first child.
Knowing more about Geeta’s story and her commitment to her goals, it makes total sense that in February 2020, BHITC hired Geeta as a new staff member in the role of Immigration Services Legal Assistant! Partial funding for this position was generously provided by the Give Back Gang, a giving circle at The Cleveland Foundation. Geeta now works closely with BHITC attorney, Nick Tribuzzo, to help manage The Hope Center’s growing case load of immigration and legal services. She brings to BHITC a first-hand experience that will bless all who the Lord sends to The Hope Center in the days ahead! Welcome, Geeta!