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Miami hosts naturalization ceremony at Hamilton campus

<p>Seventy immigrants took the Oath of Allegiance to become U.S. citizens outside of Harry T. Wilks Center on Sept. 17.</p>

Seventy immigrants took the Oath of Allegiance to become U.S. citizens outside of Harry T. Wilks Center on Sept. 17.

Cesar Alejandro Roman Gonzalez traveled over two thousand miles, found an entirely new career, and worked for over six years once he came to America. Now, he’s finally a U.S. citizen.

On Sept. 17, the university hosted a special session for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio at Miami’s Hamilton Regional Campus. During the session, hosted outside of the Harry T. Wilks Conference Center, almost 70 immigrants took the Oath of Allegiance to become naturalized U.S. citizens. 

Before taking the oath, the new citizens heard from various speakers, including President Greg Crawford and Magistrate Judge Stephanie K. Bowman, who officiated the ceremony. 

This was Bowman’s sixth time overseeing the ceremony on Miami’s campus. The ceremony, she said, is one of the few happy moments that happens in courts. 

“To look out and to the new citizens, some of them are visibly moved by the ceremony and by the process,” Bowman said. “To see how much it means to them to become a United States citizen, it's a pretty special feeling to be able to share on that day with them.”

For Cesar Alejandro Roman Gonzalez, the ceremony represented a large step in his life. Originally a lawyer and entrepreneur, he chose to leave Venezuela in 2015 due to social and political turmoil. Since coming to the U.S., Gonzalez has found work at U.S. Bank, first as a teller and now as a branch manager. 

“When you watch a movie and you hear the typical story of, ‘Oh, I got to this country with two bags and 40 bucks in my pocket,’ that's a reality,” Gonzalez said. “That was our story. [My wife] came first. She got a job, she got a really tiny small apartment in order to come, and then I followed her six months later after I got everything in place in Venezuela.”

Reflecting on the time between then and now, Gonzalez said he believes they’ve achieved the American Dream after the hardships they’ve faced. 

“I want to believe that it makes you a better person to have to go through so many different changes in your life,” Gonzalez said. “You think about grabbing two bags and putting your whole life into them and moving completely to another country, not because you want to but because you're forced to by your politicians, basically. But it gets better. It gets good.”

For Francielli Kunce, the ceremony represented the end of a long journey. She came to the U.S. from Brazil after meeting her husband — a U.S. citizen — through her work. The two both work in aviation, where they convert airplanes for clients. 

“I was pretty emotional. I mean, I couldn’t stop crying like a baby,” Kunce said. “It's like, ‘Wow, I did it. We did it.’ It was a long journey for us, and it's not an easy process. You have to take really good pride in your accomplishment.” 

Finally becoming a citizen also represented a large amount of growth to Kunce, who said she had to adapt to life in America since moving here. 

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“When I first got here, I kind of had a cultural shock,” Kunce said. “In Brazil, we have a completely different culture versus here as far as driving, food, how to go from one place to another, and I was alone here because my husband was in Israel doing conversions for us. I was all by myself right after I got here and I'm like, ‘Oh my god I'm freaking out.’” 

Mason Snyder, a sophomore music education major and member of Miami University Men’s Glee Club, performed with the rest of the Glee Club during the ceremony. Singing various songs like the National Anthem, Snyder said he was glad to be part of a positive event like this. 

“It means pretty much everything to us,” Snyder said. “Especially because not only COVID that's been happening recently but with everything going on in the world, it's nice to know that we're breaking down those walls and creating more of one community.”