Assisting communities near and far is central to Johnson County Community College’s mission. In pursuit of this goal, the College has had the honor of supporting individuals from across the globe during a significant moment in their lives: gaining United States citizenship.
JCCC has hosted the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas Naturalization Proceedings on five occasions. During the most recent ceremony, which took place on March 14, more than 400 people from 72 different countries took the Oath of Citizenship at JCCC. The largest number of new Americans came from China, Philippines, Mexico and India.
To begin the proceedings, the Honorable Teresa J. James, U.S. District Judge, welcomed the soon-to-be citizens, their families and friends, as well as the public. After taking their Oath and hearing remarks from the court, the new citizens were addressed by Dr. Joe Sopcich, JCCC President.
When asked about the ceremony, Dr. Sopcich, said:
“One of my favorite tasks as President at JCCC is to give the address at a U.S. Naturalization ceremony we now host on our campus. Being the grandchild of immigrants, I relish this opportunity to share my thoughts regarding the experiences of immigrants throughout our nation’s history. I always feel a special bond with the candidates for citizenship when I empathize with them regarding the spelling and pronunciation of our last names. And these days, compared to their names, mine is comparable to what you’d find in a Dr. Seuss book. I believe that the future of our country resides in the hopes and dreams of our immigrants. I know my grandparents had those hopes for their grandson and in so many ways, thanks to education, they’ve come true.”
Following Dr. Sopcich’s address, members of the Sons of the American Revolution presented the colors, and several hundred brand-new Americans proudly stood with their hands over their hearts and said the Pledge of Allegiance. Many new citizens also used the opportunity to register to vote.
Creating a Global Community on Campus
In addition to supporting the country’s naturalization proceedings, JCCC also provides resources to the more than 1,300 immigrant and international students enrolled at the College each semester. These students bring rich diversity to JCCC and share their global perspective with other students, faculty, staff and the community.