Immigrants from 80 Countries Slated to Become American Citizens

September 19, 2018

One of the largest naturalization ceremonies in Central Illinois history will be held at Bradley University's Renaissance Coliseum on September 25th at 11 a.m. More than 650 immigrants, from 80 countries, will be sworn in as new American citizens at this powerful and inspirational ceremony.

The Honorable James Shadid, Chief United States District Judge, Bradley alumnus and current member of the Bradley Board of Trustees, will preside over the ceremony. Shadid, whose grandparents came to the United States and were naturalized 88 years ago, calls the naturalization ceremony a living civics lesson. "It is the true-life story of grandparents, parents and these newly naturalized citizens all coming together with their own story, their own struggle, their own successes all assimilating here to continue to build our nation."

Shadid says “Watching people raise their hand and take the oath of citizenship reaffirms our own citizenship and is another reminder of the rights and the privileges afforded us.”

Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis and Bradley President Gary Roberts will open the ceremony, the Bradley ROTC will present the Nation's colors, a Bradley music student will sing the national anthem, and Melissa Fuentes, a member of the Bradley speech team, will speak on "Why Diversity Makes America Stronger."

Fuentes says she's looking forward to thanking the naturalization candidates for their contributions and welcoming them to this next chapter in their lives. "It is important for us to commend and honor those who have waited patiently and endured the often painstaking process of becoming a US citizen. Additionally, it is important to recognize how powerful diversity can be and how much members of diverse communities have contributed to our country."

Before the official ceremony, more than 100 area 8th graders will gather to meet Judge Shadid, Judge McDade and others for a civics lesson. Their focus will be the preamble to the constitution and what it means to them. Shadid says “Courts bringing naturalization ceremonies to their communities not only enhances the ceremony but also brings more public awareness to the positive role of the federal judiciary as guardians of the Constitution."

The Civic Engagement Committee at Bradley will also offer voter registration for Bradley students and others in attendance. This ceremony is open to the public.

On Left: Elena Gabor, Bradley Associate Professor, Organizational Communication