OCC’s New Citizens

OCC student Faris Shaalan (center) was sworn-in as an American citizen during a ceremony in Storer Auditorium. His daughters Dunya (left) and Midia (right) are also OCC students and new American citizens.

Storer Auditorium was transformed into a patriotic courtroom when the College hosted a Naturalization Ceremony November 15. Fifty-one candidates from 21 countries became United States citizens. New York State Acting Supreme Court Judge Michael Hanusczak presided over the ceremony. Judge Hanusczak is a former adjunct professor at OCC and his four children all earned degrees from the College.

Several of the new citizens are either current or former OCC students. Sarah Robin is a 2017 graduate of the Food Service Management program and was the first restaurateur-in-residence at “With Love,” OCC’s teaching restaurant located at 435 North Salina Street. Robin is a native of Pakistan who came to the United States four years ago. During the ceremony she read “I Am The American Flag.”

Also naturalized was OCC student Faris Shaalan, formerly of Iraq. His daughters, Dunya and Midia are also students here who became citizens in October. During the ceremony Fairs Shaalan was the proud recipient of a United States flag which previously flew over the U.S. Capitol building. The flag was generously donated by Congressman John Katko.

Two other new Americans also have OCC connections. Current student and Photography major Hassan Nassif Jassim from Iraq was naturalized as was Ammar Hadi Mahmood who earned a degree in Business Administration in 2016.

The Naturalization Ceremony was presented in conjunction with the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Americanization League of Syracuse and Onondaga County.

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Our New Friends

New citizens pose for pictures during the Naturalization Ceremony in OCC's Storer Auditorium.
New citizens pose for pictures during the Naturalization Ceremony in OCC’s Storer Auditorium.

Ruth Colvin is one month away from her 100th birthday and she’s still capable of stealing the show. Colvin was the honored guest at OCC’s annual Naturalization Ceremony and her message was the event’s icing on cake.

Ruth Colvin (right) speaks to the new citizens as Dr. Casey Crabill (left) looks on.
Ruth Colvin (right) speaks to the new citizens as Dr. Casey Crabill (left) looks on.

Colvin is the founder of Literacy Volunteers of America who has dedicated her life to teaching others around the world. When Colvin was introduced she was presented a bouquet of flowers by College President Dr. Casey Crabill and serenaded with “Happy Birthday.” As she stepped to the podium she raised a sign above her head with the letters “EQHDMCR” written in thick black marker. She asked the new American citizens what the next letter in the alphabet was after each letter on her sign. By the time they got to the end of the sign they had spelled the word “friends.” “Friends,” said Colvin. “That’s what we all are to you and you are to us. Thank you for being our friends.”

One of the new citizens and friends is OCC student Munia Ramiz. She came to the United States five years ago from Bangladesh along with her mother, father and three sisters. Ramiz graduated from Syracuse’s Nottingham High School in 2015 and enrolled in OCC. She’s a Business Technology major who will earn her degree a year from now. “I’m very very excited. I’m proud to be an American citizen. In my family I am the first to become a citizen.”

OCC Student Munia Ramiz recites the oath.
OCC Student Munia Ramiz recites the oath.

Ramiz was one of approximately three dozen people who were sworn-in by New York State Acting Supreme Court Judge Michael Hanusczak. The wonderful event included patriotic songs by OCC Assistant Professor of Music David Rudari, D.M.A. and OCC Music Student Christopher A. Knapp.

After the ceremony each new citizen was presented a copy of Colvin’s book, “Off the Beaten Path” in which she shares stories of her world travels. Colvin took the time to meet each person, learn their name and write it in their copy of the book as she autographed it.

The OCC Foundation generously provided the books. The ceremony was presented in conjunction with the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Americanization League of Syracuse and Onondaga County.

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