BOWLING GREEN — It’s an emotional experience to be a guest speaker at a naturalization ceremony just two months after taking the Oath of Citizenship.
Just ask Danijela Tomic, head coach of women’s volleyball at Bowling Green State University. She shared lessons she’s learned in her 22 years in the United States with 34 new citizens from 20 countries during a naturalization ceremony Monday at the university’s Bowen-Thompson Student Union.
“I’ve learned that what makes America great is perfectly stated in its motto, “E pluribus unum.” Out of many, one. And today is a day that all of you become part of that one.”
Ms. Tomic came to the states in 1995, following her passion for volleyball. The sport also kept her here, and she became the BGSU coach in January, 2012, and a U.S. citizen in September.
She stressed that immigrants building new lives here do not take freedom and democracy for granted.
“To be called an American is a big honor,” she said after the ceremony. “This country is built on immigrants. Our differences and diversity is what makes this country special. If we lose sight of that, I think that’s when our country is not going to be what it was meant to be.”
Judge Sara Lioi of the U.S. District Court’s Northern District of Ohio Western Division delivered a similar message after administering the oath.
“It is the uniqueness that you bring, and that other immigrants have brought to this great country, that makes our country strong,” she said.
Magistrate Judge James R. Knepp II reminded the new citizens that citizenship “doesn’t begin and end in the voting booth.” Citizens have a duty not only to serve in the military or on juries if called, but to be active participants in their communities.
“The stuff that makes America great doesn’t happen in a voting booth, folks,” he said. “It happens at PTA meetings at your school. It happens at a community meeting where you’re talking about fixing up the baseball diamond at the park. It happens when a group of neighbors meet down at the church parking lot and pile in pickup trucks and vans and drive to the next state where a tornado wiped out a town.”
Elizabeth Moll, a Cuban native living in Oregon, said she came to the United States five years ago seeking a better life. She hopes to be able to help her parents immigrate here as well.
“This is my dream come true,” she said. “I’m just happy to be a citizen.”
Three new citizens, two from Lebanon and one from St. Lucia, did not want to be identified. The other new citizens and their native countries, are:
- China: Anqi Huang, Zhou Lin, Ping Liu.
- Cuba: Elizabeth Mecias Moll.
- France: Tiffanie Seillier.
- Ghana: Vivian Guinevere Asamoah Mensah.
- India: Vani Cheruvu, Riddhi Pratik Desai.
- Iraq: Ali Abdul Lattif Ali.
- Jordan: Mohammed Hasan Ali Mahmoud, Ali Mohammed Saleh Megdadi, Randa Nabil Rajab Al Muhtaseb.
- Lebanon: Zeinab Abbas El Khatib, Hodna Adnan Salam.
- Liberia: Eddie Blank Singbe Gbellema.
- Lithuania: Vineta Cook.
- Mexico: Patricia De Loera Cervantes, Alan Joseph Dominguez, Antonio Eufracio Lopez, Armando Ramirez Ortiz, Matias Razo, Lorenzo Cortes Vega.
- Netherlands: Elisabeth Agnetta Routt.
- Nicaragua: Arlen Aracelly Munoz Perez.
- Pakistan: Azeem Masih.
- Philippines: Mary Jocelyne Yao.
- Russia: Irina Yevgenyevna Floss.
- Somalia: Fadumo Abdimajid Ibrahim.
- Syria: Mohamed Gazzolin, Ahmad Mohammed Ghannam.
- United Kingdom: Andrew Duguid Beavis.