Stetson, USCIS to Welcome 50 New U.S. Citizens

Illustration of the waving flag of the United States.

Illustration of the waving flag of the United States.

It’s the feeling you get when you pass a difficult test – that heavy sigh of relief and surge of accomplishment – multiplied ten-fold.

For immigrants passing the citizenship test, the Naturalization Ceremony, is an official rite of passage: taking that final oath to become a full-fledged American citizen.

On Monday, Sept. 19 at 11 a.m., Stetson University, in partnership with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is hosting the Naturalization Ceremony for the 12th time. The event, free and open to the public, takes place in Lee Chapel at Elizabeth Hall on Stetson’s main campus in DeLand.

A total of 50 immigrants from 22 countries will take the oath of citizenship, becoming united under one country.

“It’s one of the most touching ceremonies you can possibly experience,” comments Kevin Winchell, assistant director of Stetson’s Center for Community Engagement. “It reminds our entire community about the bonds we share together in the same country, but also about the privileges we have as Americans.”

Taking place one day before Stetson’s Values Day, the Naturalization Ceremony poignantly embodies global citizenship and the social responsibility that stems from it. The ceremony has been tied to Stetson culture since T. Wayne Bailey, Ph.D., former political science professor, initialized the event on campus in 1997.

“It’s one thing to implore our students to be engaged citizens,” Winchell adds. “But this event helps people understand that our nation is one that embraces people from all over the world.”

The ceremony includes a welcome address by Stetson President Wendy. B Libby, Ph.D., and musical performances by Boyd Jones, D.M.A, university organist and the John E. and Aliese Price Professor of Organ, and vocalist Erika Sassman ’17, Giffin Scholarship recipient, along with the presentation of Colors by the Stetson’s Army ROTC. Th event is followed by a reception in Palm Court.

“Citizenship in the United States affords advantages we sometimes we take for granted,” concludes Winchell. “This means so much opportunity for them. That’s part of the strength and tapestry of this country.”

By Veronica Faison