New American Citizens Naturalized At UCO Friday

The University of Central Oklahoma hosted a naturalization ceremony Friday, Sept. 28 for 125 new American citizens from 33 countries.

Sept. 28, 2012

Media Contact:  Courtney Bass, University Relations Staff Writer, University of Central Oklahoma, 405-974-2121, cbass4@uco.edu

NEW AMERICAN CITIZENS NATURALIZED AT UCO FRIDAY

With our presidential election just around the corner, recently naturalized citizen, Natalya Nikitina-Helvey is excited to have the privilege to vote for the first time.

“Becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen made me feel a sense of belonging,” said Nikitina-Helvey, who is originally from Uzbekistan.

“For the first time I am able to vote in presidential elections and travel outside the country with a passport rather than a green card. It is very exciting for me.”

Friday, Nikitina-Helvey shared those sentiments and more as she addressed a crowed of 125 new American citizens and their families during a naturalization ceremony at the University of Central Oklahoma.

Naturalized at UCO in 2010, Nikitina-Helvey, who is also Central’s head tennis coach, was joined by UCO President Don Betz, Chief Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange and three other judges from the U.S. District Court, Western District of Oklahoma, in congratulating the new citizens on their accomplishment.

Pilar Munneke, originally from Colombia, was one of the individuals from 33 different countries sworn in as new U.S. citizens today.

She moved to the U.S. 13 years ago to learn English and earn her Master of Business Administration from Bellevue University in Omaha, Neb.

“I have prayed for this day to come and it is finally here,” said Munneke.

Munneke currently resides in Yukon with her husband and 19 month child.

“I have always felt like the U.S. is where I need to be. It’s good to officially call it home,” said Munneke.

Nikitina-Helvey added that the experience of having the naturalization ceremony at Central made it all the more special for her.

“Being naturalized at Central was a great experience for me because my co-workers were able to come cheer for me. I am thrilled to see the naturalization ceremony back at Central and honored to be a guest speaker.”

The naturalization ceremony was sponsored by Central’s American Democracy Project (ADP) as a part of Constitution Week. For more information on the ADP, visit www.uco.edu/adp.

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Editor’s Note: Download art for publication at www.uco.edu/photo/Naturalization09.12.

Cutline:  The University of Central Oklahoma hosted a naturalization ceremony Friday, Sept. 28 for 125 new American citizens from 33 countries.