Life changed dramatically for 24 people Friday in Wheeling, as they walked into the federal building as Green Card holders-who had permission to live and work in America - and walked out as U.S. citizens.
The group took the oath of citizenship during a naturalization ceremony at the Federal Building in Wheeling. Judge Frederick P. Stamp presided.
They came from 12 countries. Each has a story.
Photo by Tyler Reynard
Taking the oath of citizenship Friday during a naturalization ceremony at the federal building in Wheeling were 24 new American citizens coming from 12 countries around the world.
Catherine Veronica Nolan came from Australia in 1985 to get her masters degree at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She returned to her native country in 1987 but came back to America after failing to find work in her homeland. She met Bob Nolan in 1988 at a conference in Kansas City. They married and settled in Morgantown where they work as educators at West Virginia University.
For many years, she resisted applying for citizenship because she chose not to surrender her Australian citizenship. She now has duel citizenship.
"I am very happy about this," she said. "It has been a long time coming."
Former Iranian Omid Jalali followed his family to Morgantown 10 years ago. He earned a bachelor's and master's degree in computer science and then a doctorate in medicine from West Virginia University.
He is in his third year of residency at Ruby Memorial Hospital.
"It has been a long process," he said. "I am looking forward to going to wherever life takes me."
Other new Americans include Timothee Eliezer Gansore, Burkina Faso; Jinxiu Zhao, Rodeng Zhao, Jin Song Zou, Jinxin Ren, Qiu Ying Jiang, all from the People's Republic of China; Leocadie Ratche Logan, Cote D'ivoire; Jan Ludwig Logemann, Germany; Tomas Neptali Herrera Merida, Guatemala; Vigneshwaran Ramanathan, Kuldeep Vindbhai Patel, Pavithra Ranganathan, Shikha Sharma, Maneesh Sharma, India; Sorayaanou Mansour, Iran; Olusola Oduntan, Omobola Oluwaseun Oduntan, Nigeria; Milagros Cutanda Wolford, Philippines; Andrenne Gayle Tius, Alastair John Wroe, United Kingdom; Sang Cao Phan, Quency Thi Nguyen, Vietnam.
The newly-confirmed Americans recited their first Pledge of Allegiance after taking the oath of citizenship from Deputy Court Clerk Sue Abraham. At the request of Stamp, each citizen stood and gave their name and native country.
Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., offered welcoming remarks, as did Joan McClelland of the Wheeling Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and Gary W. Timmons, past president of the George Washington Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution.
Junior and senior high school students who participate in the Judicial Scholars Program at eight Northern Panhandle high schools, including Bishop Donahue, Brooke, The Linsly School, John Marshall, Weir, Weirton Madonna, Wheeling Central Catholic and Wheeling Park, were also in attendance, as were students from Woodsdale Elementary.