Dozens of people will become U.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 15, at The University of Toledo College of Law’s McQuade Auditorium.
Magistrate Judge Darrell A. Clay of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio will preside over the ceremony, which is being held in honor of Constitution Day.
The guest speaker is Elena Najwa Nassif, a UToledo alumna who was naturalized alongside her parents and sister, Carol Nassif, another alumna, at a ceremony on campus in September 2022.
The Nassif family was living in Syria until 2011, when the country’s civil war prompted a move to Lebanon. They moved to Toledo in 2016.
Elena Najwa Nassif majored in business management and Middle East studies at UToledo and minored in Arabic with a certificate in intercultural competency. She graduated in December 2022. Carol Nassif graduated with a degree in pharmacy administration in May.
Elena Najwa Nassif spent the spring in Germany, independently researching Syrian women refugees there with an eye toward an eventual thesis. She will return to campus for this year’s naturalization ceremony from Washington, D.C., where she is beginning a master of arts in Arab studies at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service.
“It will be exciting to see people where I was last year,” Nassif said. “I’m looking forward to being there to applaud everyone who is being naturalized. It’s a brand-new chapter for them, and it’s a really big one.”
Several UToledo representatives will participate in the ceremony during which between 40 and 45 people are expected to be naturalized.
Rebecca Zietlow, interim dean of the College of Law, will welcome the soon-to-be citizens.
Zietlow is a Distinguished University Professor and Charles W. Fornoff Professor of Law and Values in the College of Law, where she teaches constitutional law, federal courts and constitutional litigation.
Lucas Will, the president of UToledo Student Government, will lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Will, who is originally from Bryan, is a third-year student majoring in Spanish and economics.
Student Government Vice President Tanner Schultz will recite “The New Colossus,” the sonnet written by Emma Lazarus in 1883 that appears on a plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty. Schultz, originally from Kalida, is a third-year student majoring in biology with concentrations in pre-med and neuroscience.
Student Bar Association President Cameron Ervin will open the court and Student Bar Association Vice President Andre White will close it.
The UToledo Chamber Singers will sing the national anthem.
Constitution Day is annually observed in America to commemorate the formation and signing of the Constitution of the United States on Sept. 17, 1787. UToledo hosts a naturalization ceremony annually on Constitution Day.
The free, public event is sponsored by the Office of Government Relations.