Lina Adel Barakat hoped that she one day would come to the United States to pursue her higher education.
Growing up in Sultan Yacoub al-Tahta, a village in the western Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, she never expected to fall in love with an American or to become an American herself.
But standing in a second-floor courtroom yesterday in U.S. District Court in Toledo, with an American flag in one hand and her certificate of citizenship in the other, she smiled and exuded a confidence compatible with the sentiment of what she called her newfound "land of freedom and opportunity."
Mrs. Barakat, a clinical dietician at Bay Park Community Hospital, came to the United States five years ago to pursue her master's degree in food and nutrition at Bowling Green State University.
"Today is a very remarkable day. I am excited to become an American because this country is well-known for protecting people's rights," Mrs. Barakat, said.
She was one of 68 new American citizens who took the oath of citizenship during two naturalization ceremonies in District Court yesterday.
"We are very excited and pleased that you have chosen our country. We welcome you," said U.S. Magistrate Vernelis Armstrong, presiding over the naturalization ceremony.
"This country has not always been perfect, and it is still not perfect. But as a citizen, you have a responsibility to be engaged in the things that make this country," said Mark Barnes, a Toledo lawyer and partner at the law firm Bugbee & Conkle LLP, who was the keynote speaker.
"In this country, we believe that people should be able to express themselves, good or bad," he said, "But we are also a society of laws. As a citizen, it is important to follow the laws of this country whether you like them or not. And if you don't like a particular law, that is when you become involved in the political process."
"It feels great to be an American," said Omoake Alfred Ajegba, a student at the University of Toledo. An information systems major, Mr. Ajegba, a Nigerian native, said he looked forward to enjoying the benefits of American citizenship. "I have more opportunities in America."
The following, listed alphabetically by former country, took the oath of citizenship yesterday:
Armenia - Guenrik Gareginovich Oganessian.
Bangladesh - Mohammed Irtezaur Rahman.
Bulgaria - Mariana Slavova Seklemova.
Canada - Carlton Anthony Aqui, Janice Bernadette De Silva-Aqui, Rolande Margaret Baker, Joan Alfreda Lawrence, and Herbert William Morrison.
China - Jenny Shu Wu.
Dominican Republic - Natalia Matos.
Ecuador - Sonia G. Bonifaz.
Egypt - Nora Sudqi Ghurab.
El Salvador - Marta Magdalena Chavez.
Hungary - Elizabeth Balint.
India - Ravi Kumar Kamepalli, Harish Jagjivandas Matani, Kishori Harish Matani, Sandhya Reddy Battula, Pushpa Natwarlal Lad, Prakash Babaldas Patel, Nimmy Jaimes Philips, and Mohan Potturi.
Ireland - Sean Mark Galvin.
Jordan - Susan Fahim Eddir and Rafat Rashid Mansour.
Korea - Kyong Mok Lim.
Lebanon - Iman Toufic Awada, Lina Adel Barakat, Fayze Husni Issawi Itawi, Zeinab Itawi, Rana Ahmad Jomaa Saleh, and Samer Chafic El Zabet.
Libya - Mohamed Bashir Saleh.
Mexico - Griselda Sanson Sandoval, Raquel Wright, Armando Barraza, and Valeria Sandoval.
Nicaragua - Luis Abraham Garcia, Jose Luis Jiron, Jr., and Jose Luis Jiron Lopez.
Nigeria - Omoake Alfred Ajegba and Joy Chibuzo Okeke.
Pakistan - Tehmeena Usman Cheema.
Palestine - Amar Mahmoud Zedan.
Philippines - Mary Ann Villamor Unland, Mary Dorothy Sumbi Vernaglia, and Jose Paulo Balcos Nadal.
Russia - Alexandr Edelman, Anna A. Edelman, Mila Edelman, Vladimir Alexander Edelman, and Serey Shpectorov.
Somalia - Muhudin Abdulle Eyow.
South Korea - Hee Soon Ko, Heung Sung Ko, and Ho Young Jang.
Sudan - Ahmed Eltag Hamid.
Syria - Chafic Bader, Zeina Michel Nuhfer, and Seham Abdul Salam Yazgy.
Thailand - Haruthai Kaosol and Chit Pimma.
Ukraine - Tamara Nikolayevna Lashkul.
United Kingdom - David Michael May, Jyotikaben Mahendrakumar Patel, Jacqueline Clark, and Irene Mary Coons.
Vietnam - Ba Thi Nguyen.
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