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