VIRGINIA STATE UNIVERSITY, VA—On Monday, November 14, 2022, Virginia State University hosted a Naturalization Ceremony on campus for 73 candidates to become sworn citizens of the United States of America. This is the first time a Naturalization Ceremony has been held at a Historically Black College and University (HBCU).
The newly sworn citizens range in age from 19 to 76 years old and come from 40 countries. In addition, they are contributing members of society in several capacities, including one member of the United States Army Reserves. For them—the ceremony is the final requirement for becoming lawful permanent residents of the United States.
“You are American, and now it’s your turn to be a builder,” said keynote speaker and Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin. The governor encouraged the new citizens to be innovators like those who assisted in founding the United States. “America is the only nation in the history of the world founded on an idea—not geography. One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all. That is the American idea.”
United States District Judge David Novak presided over the ceremony. VSU President Dr. Makola Abdullah delivered the welcome address. Local middle school students attended the ceremony as the federal proceedings were an opportunity to reiterate civics lessons taught to nearly 300 8th-grade students. Before the ceremony, the students participated in educational group activities hosted by volunteer lawyers from the Federal Bar Association.
“At VSU, we develop civically engaged leaders and provide outreach to improve our local community,” said Abdullah. “This was an opportunity to be creative in our communal efforts, to support these candidates on a major accomplishment, to provide both VSU and local students with a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and to expose our local youth to the transformative power of education.”