UNC Global collaborated with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to host a naturalization ceremony on April 12. The ceremony was held in the Nelson Mandela Auditorium in the FedEx Global Education Center, where nearly 60 immigrants were naturalized.
Elizabeth Barnum, director of International Student and Scholar Services for UNC Global, said she believes hosting naturalization ceremonies allows UNC to connect to the local community as well as the world at large.
“The hope is also that it's part of our service to the community,” Barnum said. “We work with international students and scholars from all over the world, and we also embrace the diversity that's part of America and all of the richness that comes to UNC from around the world. So the naturalization ceremony is a integral part of that recognition.”
Among those naturalized on Friday was Jojo Paka, who is from Republic of the Congo and has spent the last few years as a student at North Carolina Central University. For him, the immigration process went swiftly as he has now been a permanent resident in the U.S. for seven years.
“It wasn’t hard at all because I was a permanent resident since 2012 so it took me about five or six years from when I applied,” he said.