97-Year-Old Australian Passes U.S. Citizenship Test With Flying Colors - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: News

97-Year-Old Australian Passes U.S. Citizenship Test With Flying Colors

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Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014 9:13 am

Jean Collaton takes her walker everywhere and she admits she can’t hear very well but her mind is sharp, in fact, she recently passed the citizenship test and became a U.S. citizen on Nov. 22, 2013.

Originally from Adelaide, Australia, Collaton has been making yearly trips to Coronado where her daughter Lyn lives with her husband and son. Collaton, who is known to her younger friends as Nana Jean, had practically been living in both places until three years ago when she moved to Coronado permanently. Collaton had a green card since she was 80 years old and recently, when the card was close to expiring, she decided to become a U.S. citizen. “I might as well become an American citizen,” she said. Her daughter Lyn said one of the reasons was so that she could vote and serve on a jury. “And to carry a gun” added Collaton with a grin. Collaton studied and knew all of the 100 questions on the test. “She said she would never be able to do this, but I knew she could. She is an ex-schoolteacher,” said Lyn Collaton. 

At the local immigration office in Chula Vista where Collaton took the test, the employees were surprised to see someone in her ‘90s since no one her age takes the test - usually senior citizens can get a waiver for medical reasons. At the immigration office one of the managers even asked Nana Jean to take a picture with him and said he would hang it on the wall. 

Promptly after Collaton received her citizenship she went to the Registrar of Voters office and registered to vote but was disappointed to find out she would not be able to vote in the San Diego mayor’s election. 

Lyn Collaton said the entire process from the application to the swear in ceremony took two and a half months. “I felt quite excited and all my friends were too,” said Collaton. 

Collaton said that Coronado reminds her of the weather in Adelaide sharing a similar parallel and Mediterranean climate. A widow, Collaton lived alone for many years but her daughter had told her she would have to make a decision about moving with her to the U.S. Collaton gave up her driver’s license when she was 90. “I wanted to stop driving. I didn’t want to be one of those people who have accidents,” she said.

After the swear in ceremony she posed for photos in a boxer’s jacket similar to the one Sylvester Stallone wore in the move “Rocky” which featured red, white and blue colors. Next the family went to IHOP for breakfast, Collaton’s favorite breakfast place, and at night the family had a surprise party for her complete with a huge cake with a big American flag.

Collaton stays as active as possible and has two girlfriends she socializes with, Emile and Jean. One of them is 93 and picks up Collaton and together they go to the gym at the Sewall Healthy Living Center at the Coronado Hospital to exercise. The other friend is her ‘70s and the three of them get together on Saturday nights and talk politics. “On Saturday nights we have wine, food and have a lovely time ... we settle the world’s problems,” said Collaton. “We talk about hot button topics, we’re very feisty girls,” she said. Collaton was born Isabel Beryl Collaton but she always went by Jean. She taught English and French for 40 years. She started teaching in a two-room schoolhouse.

Collaton and her daughter Lyn have traveled around Australia and Europe. “Mom loved traveling. She’s applying for a passport. She said ‘I want a passport even if I never use it,’ ” said Lyn. The family prefers to take road trips now because traveling is hard for Collaton, in fact, last year they went to Yosemite. 

On Saturdays, she enjoys watching her grandson Ayden horseback riding. Collaton loves Grisham books and watching TV and movies. And of course, catching up on the latest news for topics to discuss on Saturday nights with her girlfriends.

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1 comment:

  • Curtis M posted at 2:39 am on Sun, Jun 10, 2018.

    Curtis M Posts: 1

    I can really imagine her happiness that how luckiest she was feeling at the moment. This is really big achievement for her specially at this age. Congratulations lady for passing essayontime test at this age.