Coming to America

More than 80 become naturalized citizens at TU

PHOTO BY NICOLE WALBY The Hon. Jack Zouhary of the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, Western Division, recites the oath of citizenship to more than 80 new citizens during a naturalization ceremony Wednesday on the campus of Tiffin University.

More than 80 immigrants participated in a naturalization ceremony Wednesday presented by the U.S. District Court Northern District of Ohio.

The ceremony took place on the campus of Tiffin University with the Hon. Jack Zouhary presiding.

“We are delighted to open the golden door to you, citizens,” Zouhary said, referencing the poem, “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus. “Lady Liberty still brightens the New York Harbor with her lamp and you — along with Lady Liberty — are the keepers of the flame of liberty. Hold it high for all the world to see.”

Zouhary described what immigration means to him, with his family hailing from Syria and Lebanon. He said he recently took a trip to Lebanon for a family wedding.

“The emotions I felt going back to this beautiful place my family came from, my roots far away at the end of the Mediterranean Sea. I was reminded how lucky I was to be born in America,” he said.

Zouhary said “American” to him is special, including “the American Dream.”

“The American Dream is at the heart of American immigration,” he said. “America remains the place citizens of the world most desire to immigrate to. The American Dream, whatever it may be, can come true.”

Tiffin University President Lillian Schumacher said the ceremony is a “significant example of who we are as a country.”

“You all worked so hard to be part of us as Americans,” she said. “The ceremony is important to Tiffin University and aligns so well with our Celebrate Cultural Uniqueness initiative. We are a welcoming community of individuals that are unique in our own right and have in common the love of our country.”

During the ceremony, Sami Mejri, a TU assistant professor of science, shared his journey to becoming a U.S. citizen.

He came to the U.S. in search of an education 17 years ago and planned to move back to his native Tunisia.

Mejri said he earned his education and decided to stay.

“What I like so much about America is the resilience of the people and the strength of its democracy,” he said. “Becoming a citizen is a membership with the required desire to serve and care for your fellow citizens, to respect and protect the Constitution.”

Becoming a U.S. citizen is not unique, Mejri said, but he said he hoped the experience helped the new citizens envision their roles and responsibilities.

During the ceremony, the Pledge of Allegiance and “The New Colossus” were recited and “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America” were performed by the Tiffin University Band.