Nancy Padayogdog Hierholzer, left, formerly of the Philippines, and Tracey Annrose Hidalgo, formerly of Trinidad and Tobago applaud Thursday during a naturalization ceremony for 39 new U.S. citizens held at the Main Library downtown.
U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey Helmick on Thursday told a group of 39 citizens-to-be there was hardly a better way to celebrate the approaching new year than through a naturalization ceremony at the Main Library.
Several audience members nodded in agreement.
Once they took the oath of citizenship, the new citizens, who came from 25 countries and four continents, solemnly, one by one, came up to the judge and received their certificates of citizenship on the podium of the library's McMaster Center.
Many then took a moment to pose with their certificates as family members and friends snapped pictures at the conclusion of the hour-long ceremony.
“I feel awesome,” Tracey Annrose Hidalgo of Toledo said as she stepped down from the podium, all smiles. “My family and I are [definitely] celebrating a new beginning today.”
Mrs. Hidalgo, 31, a customer-service representative at the human resources and talent development department of the University of Toledo, said she looks forward to a naturalization ceremony for her husband, Francisco Hidalgo, also 31, who is originally from Limache, Chile.
Mrs. Hidalgo is from the village of Paramin in the Maraval area in Trinidad and Tobago.
The couple, who met as students at UT in 2007 and married in 2009, have two U.S.-born children, a 3-year-old son, Eli, and a daughter, Evi, who is 5 months old.
Andrew Mwangi Gitongu, from Nairobi, Kenya, said he shared her feelings.
“I am proud to be an American,” said Mr. Gitongu, 44, of Toledo clutching his certificate of citizenship. “This is a new beginning,” he said, putting the word stress on “is.”
Mr. Gitongu, a slots shift manager at Hollywood Casino Toledo, said his next step is to bring his 18-year-old daughter, Michelle Mwangi, a Nairobi high school graduate, from Kenya to the United States so she can study to become a lawyer. “When? Hopefully next year,” he said.
“It's a continuing trend toward my goal: educating my children,” Mr. Gitongu said of his becoming a U.S. citizen, noting that his younger daughter, Ashley Gitongu, 9, who was born in the United States, is an elementary school student.
Chris Burkhart of the Fort Industry chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution congratulates Andrew Mwangi Gitongu, who was among 39 people who became citizens Thursday.
Those naturalized and their countries of origin are:
Argentina — Marcela Alejandra Barrios
Barbados — Nigel Sylvester Sandiford
Brazil — Alice Rocha Cox
Cambodia — Sunny Kien Tran
Canada — Jennifer Irene Pikul
Guatemala — Veronica Janeth Meneses De Mendizabal
Guyana — Noreen Alexandreane Bailey-Grandison
India — Ganga Mahiji Patel and Kanishka Sen
Iraq — Ahmed Sabah Hussein Al-Khudhair, Faris Younus Fattohi Haddad, Younis Faris Haddad, and Luma Rassam Shammas
Japan — Yayoi Kaji
Kenya — Andrew Mwangi Gitongu
Laos — Xok Vilaychith
Mexico — Martin Garcia Contreras, Leticia Lozano Cruz, Rene Armando Dzib, and Alberto Lopez-Chavez
Mongolia — Entoya Badarch
Pakistan — Anwer Ali, Naureen Ali, and Mahmood Ali Khan
People's Republic of China — Bai Yu Wang Kingsley and Jinyu Pan
Peru — Two people, who asked for their names to be withheld
Philippines — Nancy Padayogdog Hierholzer, Cristine Mata Torres, and Erwin Castillo Vergara
Sudan — Abdelhaliem Ahmed Alzain and Amna Mustafa Alzain
Tanzania — Raya Mohammed Omar
Trinidad and Tobago — Tracey Annrose Hidalgo
Tunisia — Imed Mohamed Aouichi
United Kingdom — John Keith Dunstone
Venezuela — Isabel Cristina Dupes
Vietnam — Tuoi Thi Nguyen
Contact Mike Sigov at: email@example.com or 419-724-6089.