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  • The Blade

    58 new American citizens welcomed at University of Findlay naturalization ceremony

    By By Eric Taunton / The Blade,


    FINDLAY — A man waved at his family with a smile on his face as he stood in line to receive his certification of citizenship in front of the stage along with several others.

    He was one of 58 new Americans who rushed to their friends and family with their certificates after the naturalization ceremony, which was presided over by U.S. District Court Judge James R. Knepp, at the University of Findlay on Thursday.

    They came from 32 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burma, Canada, China, Colombia, Congo, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, India, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Moldova, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Vietnam.

    “I am so excited,” said new citizen Sally Kandie. “I’m really excited with my friends coming to support me, and I’m excited to be able to participate.”

    Ms. Kandie, who lives in Toledo, came to the United States from Kenya as a nursing student in 2008 at Bowling Green State University, now working as a nurse for five years at the University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio Hospital.

    She was greeted by her husband, Johnston Kib, and friends Deborah Knight and Mary McDonough, who were all excited for their loved one to receive her certificate after several years of living in the country.

    “We’re proud,” Ms. Knight said. “I have goosebumps. It’s joyous and there are so many people here and we love the judge.”

    “I’m super excited,” Mr. Kib said. “I just came here to witness her being sworn in.”

    Ms. Kandie said she was excited to be able to contribute and participate in U.S. democracy.

    “I honestly want to be able to give back,” she said. “If they select me for a jury, I can participate in that and vote and get my voice heard.”

    “She’s already signed up to vote,” Ms. Knight added.

    Jose Garcia, who lives in Deshler, Ohio, had a big smile on his face as his family gathered around him to celebrate the momentous occasion.

    Mr. Garcia came to the United States in 1997 from Mexico, first moving to Michigan and then Deshler, where he works at Hearthside Food Solutions.

    “Because I’m an American citizen now, that means more opportunity for me and my family,” he said.

    Tatiana Draguta, who lives in Perrysburg, has always wanted to live in the United States, she said.

    The Moldova native, who was at the ceremony with her mother, daughter, and son, said her journey toward citizenship felt more and more real as Judge Knepp led the ceremony.

    She was overjoyed her mother was able to travel overseas to see her longtime dream become a reality.

    “I really wanted to live in the United States, and my dream came true,” she said. “When I applied, I realized it was getting more and more serious.”

    Before the new citizens were given their certificates, Judge Knepp emphasized how important it was for them to realize that the United States is their home now.

    “You guys own the place now,” he said. “This is as much your country as it is anybody else's. You have every right as a citizen that any one of us have. We all have the same rights, all the same responsibilities.

    “As Americans, we’ve reserved for ourselves the most important decisions… Those decisions are not made for us by the government. They’re made by you, my fellow citizens, to make decisions like while serving on a jury, which is the highest calling that any of us will ever have with the possible exception of raising a rifle in times of war,” he said.

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