New citizen adopts rights

Claudia Nuñez, secretary for President Dr. Jerry Bawcom, became a citizen during the university’s first naturalization ceremony recently.

Bawcom said, “I think it was very patriotic of her, and I am happy for her and her family.”

The Honorable Walter S. Smith Jr., chief district judge, presided as 349 other people received  citizenship Aug. 12.

Nuñez was honored to have been a part of the historic campus event.

“It was absolutely wonderful,” she said. “The university truly made it very special, not only for me, but to everyone present on that day. People kept telling me how beautiful the university was and  how warm and friendly. I feel very honored, humbled and proud. Proud to be an American.”

Nuñez, who was originally born in Columbia, came to the U.S. in 1986 for political reasons. Though she still has many relatives in Columbia, her immediate family members are all American citizens.

“My mother lives in Illinois and my sister in Tennessee,” she said. “My grandmother, many of my uncles, aunts, and cousins are still in Colombia, but a few live in Florida.”

Nuñez wasted no time to begin taking advantage of her rights as a citizen. She said her first act as an American citizen was to register to vote. Immigration law will be an important issue for her future vote.

“I have very strong feelings about the immigration process,” she said. “There is a lot that needs to be reformed and changed. We must do it with love and compassion towards those who are truly seeking a better life not only for themselves, but for their families.”

Having finally completed the entire immigration process, Nuñez had this advice to give.

“To those who aren’t citizens,” she said, “start early, do not wait, do not procrastinate. To those students who are born here, appreciate the rights that you have. You truly do not know how lucky you are to be born in a country that gives you many rights and freedom. Love, honor and protect your country, be grateful for your liberty and serve your country. Serve her well.”

Sophomore English major Sarah Nuñez, Claudia Nuñez’ daughter, commented on her mother’s momentous day.

“It was nice to see my mom become a citizen,” she said. “She’s wanted it for a long time, so I was glad to be a part of it. She’s very happy and full of pride for her new country.”

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