New Citizens Take Oath on Campus

The Renaissance Coliseum took on a distinctly patriotic aura in April when 597 people from 100 countries became U.S. citizens during what officials called the largest naturalization ceremony in central Illinois’ history. The ceremony included new citizens from the four divisions in the federal court’s Central District of Illinois: Peoria, Urbana, Rock Island and Springfield.

After Katie Burnham ’14 sang the national anthem, speakers, including federal Chief Judge James Shadid ’79 — who presided over the ceremony — told of their ancestors coming to the United States or described their own immigration experiences. Shadid and the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service (IPL) spearheaded the event. Joining Shadid were other court personnel, including Judge Joe Billy McDade ’59 MA ’60 HON ’13.

Then-President Joanne Glasser introduced the keynote speaker, Bradley’s head baseball coach Elvis Dominguez, who told the new citizens of life before and after arriving in the United States on a Freedom Flight as a child when his family fled Cuba. “I applaud you for giving your families hope and an opportunity to be anything they choose to be — as Americans,” he remarked.

IPL Executive Director Brad McMillan said, “We need to give our students the opportunity to witness firsthand these inspiring, life-changing events. It makes all of us proud of our country and aware that it is special to be an American.”

— B.G.
— Photo by Zach Evans ’15