An Indiana University of Pennsylvania professor was among the 88 people who became naturalized U.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony Friday at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex.
Business management professor Hussam Al-Shammari, an Indiana resident, took the Oath of Allegiance during the service, held annually at the university. Al-Shammari also delivered the keynote address to the group, which included five others who have a connection to IUP as students, graduates or employees.
The service was held in conjunction with International Education Week at IUP. This year’s group of new citizens represents 40 countries, including India, China, Bangladesh, Turkey, Mexico, Vietnam, Poland, Iraq and Germany.
Jordanian-born Al-Shammari recalled that his very first days as a child came during a 21-day war between Egypt, Israel and Syria. He also recalled growing up in a one-room home.
“This is the lifestyle the person who is standing here before you was living in his childhood,” he said.
“My way out of this was education. And the person who was behind all of this is my mother, who has always believed in education as a bridge to a better life.”
Al-Shammari pursued undergraduate and graduate degrees in Jordan and then took up doctoral studies at the University of Texas at Arlington.
Upon completing his studies, he began looking for a job and received three offers, including one from IUP.
“The support I received from IUP during very first days of my employment with them is the primary reason I am still here with them. They sponsored me and their sponsorship is why I am here now in the process of becoming an American citizen,” he said.
He told the group that as Americans they enjoy many rights and privileges, but he reminded them that those come with many responsibilities.
“Good citizens have to abide by the law. Good citizens have to pay their taxes. Good citizens have to be good and active community members,” he said.
“Always remember that we are here today because of the success of the democracy that all American citizens participate in.”
He also told them to remember that they are very much a part of the country.
“We belong here, we have a role to play, and we have a contribution to make to the survival and endurance of this nation and its values. Let us all keep the American dream alive.”