Although receiving U.S. citizenship can be an emotional experience for individuals, celebrations often remain small, with the joy of the event often enough for those who undergo the lengthy process.
According to Tulsa World, when Spanish teacher Melanie Pierce got her citizenship, she did not expect a celebration.
However, on February 15, Pierce started her day with all 550 students and all staff at Sequoyah Middle School to officially welcome her to the country. Toting banners, a red, white and blue corsage, and deafening cheers, Pierce told Tulsa World she was overwhelmed by the support and enthusiasm of her school.
Pierce first came to Oklahoma as an exchange student in college. While here, she met her future husband, and they began dating. Coming to the United States in 2008, she got married and applied and received her residency and work permits. Three years later, in 2011, she got her permanent residency and was allowed to apply for her citizenship. After traveling to Oklahoma City for interviews and English and citizenship tests, she became a citizen, according to Tulsa World.
“[The students] didn’t realize the magnitude of her efforts to become an American citizen. It then spawned discussions in all of our history classes,” said Sequoyah Middle School principal Cindy Williamson, Tulsa World Reported. “They started to question and talk about citizenship and what people have to do to gain citizenship.”
Those who have recently gained citizenship find their new rights especially important in election years. In a recent article in The Mountain Press, Romania native Adriana Zoder explained how much she is looking forward to her first presidential election.
“Needless to say, voting is special to me,” she said. “I vote rain or shine. I can’t wait until November, when I cast my first vote in an American presidential election.”