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Published: Friday, 12/13/2013 - Updated: 9 months ago

25 countries, 4 continents represented during oath of citizenship

BY MIKE SIGOV
BLADE STAFF WRITER
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. 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.
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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. 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.
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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: sigov@theblade.com or 419-724-6089.



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