Oxford resident Natasha Bankhead said she was proud to become an American citizen and gain the right to vote after being naturalized with 50 others earlier this month. The new citizens who completed the naturalization process hailed from 24 different countries, according to Bankhead.
“It was interesting hearing all the places people had come here from,” Bankhead said.
Bankhead, originally from Britain, has lived in the U.S. for more than 18 years. She married her husband in 2007, which allowed her to obtain a green card while completing research at the USDA: National Sedimentation Laboratory (NSL) in Oxford on a student visa in 2001.
The naturalization process requires several steps including taking fingerprints and answering a 10-question American government test. Applicants must receive a score of 60 to pass.
The test is taken at immigration services in Memphis, Tennessee. Bankhead said her favorite moment during the process was when a man stepped out of his test, gave two thumbs up with a grin and immediately started to break out in joyful tears.
“Random strangers started to give him hugs and high fives,” she said. “It was the most moving moment of the whole process…just seeing how badly people wanted to become American citizens.”
Although Bankhead initially started the naturalization process for the convenience of traveling abroad with her family, the meaning of naturalization became more than convenient for her after realizing the value of American citizenship.
When Bankhead looked around the courtroom during the Oath of Allegiance to the United States, she said she realized how many people desperately wanted to be naturalized to become American citizens.
“It makes you so much more grateful for all the freedoms you have in this country knowing you have made that choice,” she said. “It was a proud moment.”
By Talbert Toole, associate editor of HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.