In celebration of National Women’s History Month, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services held an all-women naturalization ceremony at WMU-Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus on March 6.

In celebration of National Women’s History Month, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services held an all-women naturalization ceremony at Western Michigan University Cooley (WMU-Cooley) Law School’s Tampa Bay campus last month. The ceremony included the Oath of Allegiance, the final step to citizenship for the candidates. Sixty women participated in the ceremony.

WMU-Cooley Assistant Dean Katherine Gustafson provided opening remarks and WMU-Cooley Campus Director Daniela Mendez spoke about her immigration experience before U.S. Magistrate Judge Amanda Sansone of the Middle District of Florida administered the oath.

“It is appropriate that we have this ceremony during National Women’s History Month as the month is dedicated to amplifying women’s voices to honor the past, inform the present and inspire the future,” said Gustafson. “Immigrants are essential to our nation’s strength and vitality because immigrants helped to found this country, helped to secure our independence and helped to preserve our union. Even though you are now a naturalized citizen, you are just as American as any other citizens who may have been born here or who may trace their lineage back to the Mayflower.”

Mendez, herself an immigrant, who earned a law degree, spoke about realizing her dream to become a U.S. citizen.

“This moment, right now, is the American Dream. The American Dream is not about money or a house, but it is the opportunity to be an American while being able to keep your culture,” said Mendez. “Stay true to your culture and celebrate your accomplishments. Being naturalized is not about forgetting where you come from but learning to cherish the American way of life. It is important to celebrate this occasion with your friends and family who helped you get to this point today.”

Since the law school’s founding in 1972, WMU-Cooley has provided nearly 20,000 graduates with the practical skills necessary for a seamless transition from academia to the real world and enrolls classes in January, May and September at its Michigan and Florida campuses. WMU and WMU-Cooley Law School operate as independent institutions with their own governance structures and separate fiduciary responsibilities.