Mihaela Adelaida Steyer was so excited about becoming a U.S. citizen, she couldn't sleep the night before yesterday's event.
"I've studied so hard for this," she said.
Mrs. Steyer, formerly of Romania, was one of 42 people from 20 countries to become U.S. citizens at a ceremony yesterday at the National City Bank auditorium on Madison Avenue in downtown Toledo.
U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Mary Ann Whipple presided.
"Even though we are not in a courtroom, this is a formal court proceeding and the culmination of a legal process," the judge said.
Mrs. Steyer met her husband, Seneca County Sheriff Tom Steyer, when Mr. Steyer traveled to Romania. He was there after Tiffin University received a grant to start a criminal justice master's program in the country. Mr. Steyer toured a prison in Romania where Mrs. Steyer was working as a captain.
The two met again during another one of Mr. Steyer's trips, and they kept in touch by e-mail. They were married in Romania nearly four years ago and have a son, Louis Mihai, 3. Mrs. Steyer received a law degree in Romania and is employed at the Tiffin Developmental Center.
To celebrate Mrs. Steyer's new citizenship, the family is taking a trip to Las Vegas, a place Mrs. Steyer has long wanted to visit.
Her story is one of many.
Mireya Aguirre, formerly of Mexico, has been in the United States since 1996. She and her husband own five Mexican restaurants in northwest Ohio.
"I'm proud to be a citizen and to be able to vote," she said.
Jesus Alberto Guel, also of Mexico, lives in Toledo and has been in the United States since 1978.
A senior supervisor for a correctional facility, he said he wanted to be a citizen after the "historic things that have happened since Sept. 11."
"I'm looking forward to voting in a very historic period," he said.
Sanaa Orra, a reporter from WTVG-TV, Channel 13 and first generation Lebanese immigrant, spoke to the new citizens and praised the opportunities of life in America.
"As U.S. citizens, we don't let blood relations define us. We all want to live peacefully," she said.
"With hard work, anyone can succeed," she added.
Judge Whipple strongly urged citizens to vote and participate in the democratic process.
"Voter turnout is unacceptably low," she said. "Nothing is more important than the right to vote."
Darlene Sonia Schroeder, who lives in Sandusky, said she'll never forget the ceremony.
"Two of my friends from Sandusky surprised me with a bag of American flags and mugs," she said. "I'll never forget this."
Those who became citizens and their country of origin were:
Cambodia - Kim Eng Ly.
Canada - Santiago Singson Castillo, Jr., David Andrew De Maio, Garth David Phibbs, Darlene Sonia Schroeder, and Nancy Elaine Woodley.
China - Xiangqing Sun and Jin Ping Tam.
Egypt - Haytham Abdel Aziz El Genedy and Ibrahim Mohammad Moustafa.
Guyana - Patsy Agatha Ross.
India - Vidya Rangareddi Ajaradder, Meena Subash Chandran, Ramadevi Kannan, and Govardhanarao Korrapati.
Iran - Ali Mohammadione.
Iraq - Batool Farij Asker.
Jordan - Nemeh Motawe.
Korea - Sang Ye Warner.
Lebanon - Kalthoum Mohamad Abdo, Maarouf Khalil El Tawil, Mariam Kassem Kassem, and Zeinab Mohamad Saleh.
Malaysia - Michelle Ng Chew and Madhusudan Fulabhai Patel.
Macedonia - Vesna Todorova.
Mexico - Mireya Aguirre, Enrique Gomezdelcampo, Jesus Alberto Guel, Jose Luis Valenzuela Rodriguez, and Anastasio Juan Gonzalez Velasco.
Philippines - Ma. Nemia Borbon Princesa, Alona Alegria Stocklin, and Randy Ortilla Suarez.
Romania - Mihaela Adelaida Steyer.
Thailand - Nirapha Suwannathada.
Ukraine - Irina Stakhanova and Olga Petrovna Wise.
United Kingdom - Trevor Howard Clark and Jeremy Clive Probert.
Vietnam - Loi Huynh and Kimberly Yen Tran.
Contact Meredith Byers at: