Thursday, May 24, 2018
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37 people from 21 countries become U.S. citizens in Findlay


Moira Jean Van Staaden is congratulated by husband Robert Huber, left, and son Sebastian, 14, on becoming a U.S. citizen. Mr. Huber, who is from Austria, became a citizen two years ago. Ms. Van Staaden is a native of South Africa. The University of Findlay hosted Monday’s naturalization event.

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FINDLAY — Moira Jean Van Staaden of Pemberville was excited to become an American citizen during a naturalization ceremony held on the University of Findlay campus Monday.

But she jokingly noted her accomplishment means her teenaged son, Sebastian Huber, 14, no longer has a cool line with outer space connotations to throw on his friends.

“Now, my son can no longer say he’s being raised by aliens,” quipped Ms. Van Staaden, a Bowling Green State University associate professor of biology who moved to the United States in 1998.

Ms. Van Staaden’s husband and Sebastian’s father, Robert Huber, a BGSU biology professor, became a U.S. citizen two years ago.

Ms. Van Staaden is a native of South Africa; Mr. Huber is from Austria. The couple met in graduate school at Texas Tech University. Their son has been a U.S. citizen because of his birth in this country.

PHOTO GALLERY: 37 take oath of citizenship

Ms. Van Staaden was among 37 citizens sworn in during a ceremony in the gymnasium of UF’s Koehler Fitness and Recreation Complex.

The event drew about 400 people, one of the larger turnouts. Bus loads of students from several Hancock County schools were there, as were many friends and relatives.

Four area high school seniors — Zoe Wahbeh of Findlay High School, Marisa Burkett of Liberty-Benton High School, Briana Herr of McComb High School, and Dylan Sexton of Van Buren High School — delivered remarks. Other students participated in leading the Pledge of Allegiance or in providing music.

The ceremony was a family affair for several families.

James Steward Akroyd, formerly of the United Kingdom, said his U.S. citizenship is the fourth biggest event in his life behind his marriage to his wife, Gennifer; and the births of his children, Charisma, 3, and Chance, 1.

“Pride. This is my home. It’s as simple as that,” said Mr. Akroyd, a Bluffton resident and Grob Systems technician who moved to the United States in 2005.

Daniel Ohene Donkor, formerly of the United Kingdom, is a radiologist for Mercy Health Partners who lives in Perrysburg. He said he is pleased to be an American to become “fully integrated” in the country where he’s lived for the last 16 years.

“Despite all of the criticism, this is a place where you really can be what you want to be,” Mr. Donkor said. North America is one of three continents where he’s lived; Africa and Europe are the other two. He was joined at the ceremony by his wife, Esther; and his children, Daniel, 8, Rachel, 5, and Andrew, 1.

Catherine Garcia-Feehan, law clerk to U.S. District Judge Jeffrey J. Helmick, said naturalization is “to celebrate and witness the exercise of democracy.”

She recited a famous quote from former Illinois governor and presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson, who said: “Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”

Those sworn in and their native country are:

Brazil: Haifa Jamil Jarouche, Jihad Mahmed Smidi

Canada: Alan David Griffiths, Antonio Tavares Pavao

Eritrea: Berhana Ghebretinsae Osbourne

Ghana: Samuel Kwasi Kyere Ofori, Margaret Aforkor Otoo

India: Vijayalakshmi Annam, Dinesh Sadanand Rane, Parimal Dinesh Rane, Pranav Dinesh Rane, Sushma Dinesh Rane

Iraq: Nishwan Noael Jibri, Ritta Jamal Shikwana

Jamaica: Gino Sacia Laidlaw, Paul Norman McDonald

Jordan: Jay Ahmad Kafina, Mohammad Najjar, Suha Abdallah Nasa

Mexico: Jose Manuel Belmontes, Nora Yesica Tovar Solis

Pakistan: Shahzeb Khan Niazi

People's Republic of China: Ying Li, Yu Samuel Yang, Jin Shi Zhou

Phillippines: Erlinda Balcos Nadal

Poland: Magdalena Kaja Reddy

Portugal: Cristina Paula Poupinho

Russia: Elena Grigoryevna Bennett

Serbia and Montenegro: Ksenija Dejan Glusac

Somalia: Muhammad Mohamud Ali, Hibo Aydid Shiil

South Africa: Moira Jean Van Staaden

Thailand: Pikun King

United Kingdom: James Steward Akroyd, Daniel Ohene Donkor

Vietnam: Luong Thi Le

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