It hasnít been a year since Larry Hayes í11, í12 walked across the stage and accepted his masterís diploma in business administration from Avila University and, already, heís working at very high levels for the U.S. government.
Hayes, who earned his bachelorís in business administration Ė with minors in psychology, pre law and political science Ė from Avila in 2011 and his MBA in 2012, is working as an immigration services officer for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). His role is mainly to screen immigrant applicants for U.S. citizenship Ö to make certain they donít pose any security threats to America. He said he also works on the qualification process and eligibility of work permits for documented immigrants.
He has attended naturalization swearing-in ceremonies for new U.S. citizens in Dallas and Kansas City, MO.
“Itís a very rigorous process these immigrants must go through,” said Hayes, who served with the U.S. Marine Corps from 1984-86. “But, there is no shortage of people applying for benefits and citizenship.”
“When anyone comes into this country lawfully, they come through USCIS.”
Hayes said some of the things that are examined when an individual enters the U.S. are, were they good citizens in their home country?
“If they qualify for the benefit, they get the benefit,” he said. “If not, they donít. The system is built to identify potential threatening people. You canít control an entire border, but you can take people coming in and make sure theyíre qualified to receive benefits.”
If the process for obtaining citizenship is difficult and complex, itís no more rigorous than the process Hayes went through to land his current position. Graduation was followed by months of a stringent vetting process. He applied to the Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF), and out of 12,000 applicants, was one of only 660 who made the final cut.
“I was in Miami the Thursday-Saturday before the Super Bowl (last February) doing assessments with students from throughout the country,” Hayes said. “It was an all-day process of testing, with six different interview sessions and six different scenarios. They want to find out if you can play well in the sand box with others. They want government agencies to work together better.”
Hayes said heís waiting to be appointed to his Presidential Management Fellows position, but that is being held up because of sequestration. His PMF designation expires in April 2014. However, he said the experience heís picking up now opens plenty of options in government service and work. He also has security clearance for the next five years, which could be used to work in agencies such as the National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency or U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Hayes said his education at Avila prepared him perfectly for his work with the USCIS.
“A lot of whatís done in the USCIS comes back to Catholic Charities,” he said. “Catholic Charities helps immigrants apply for benefits authorized through USCIS. If you look at Avilaís principles and what theyíre trying to instill, they are the same as the USCIS Ė help those who are here who want to do the right thing.”
“Itís gone from Catholic education, to Catholic Charities, to a national agency that helps people. Itís all come full circle.” AU
Media Contact: Bob Luder, 816.501.2434