• 04/01/16- MSU, President Keenum Welcome New U.S. Citizens During Friday Naturalization Ceremony

    Contact: Sasha Steinberg

    STARKVILLE, Miss.—102 individuals representing 43 different countries around the globe were officially sworn in as United States citizens today [April 1] at Mississippi State University.

    The ballroom in the Mill at MSU’s Starkville campus was transformed into a federal courtroom, where friends and family members witnessed their loved ones taking the Oath of Allegiance to become U.S. citizens.

    Serving as keynote speaker for the event was MSU President Mark E. Keenum, who extended his personal welcome and congratulations, as well as that on behalf of the state’s leading university.

    “We’re delighted to have here at Mississippi State those of you who have made a very monumental step in becoming citizens of the United States of America,” Keenum said.

    “We welcome you not only to our campus, but we welcome you as fellow citizens of our great nation.”

    “Your country needs your talents, your intelligence and the strengths that you will bring to our society,” Keenum continued. “For many of you, choosing to become American citizens was a decision that took courage, demanding sacrifices and hard work. No matter what difficulties you had to overcome, it was a decision that you will always look back on with great pride and satisfaction.”

    Keenum challenged the new citizens to work hard and contribute to the economic vitality and help raise the level of educational attainment in the nation.

    “I encourage each of you to be active in your communities and in the electoral process, exercising your rights and privileges of citizenship in a representative democracy. I urge to embrace the values embodied in our Constitution that make America great.”

    The university’s chief executive also inspired the new citizens to exercise their First Amendment right “to speak in public, to assemble and worship freely and as we see fit without any fear of persecution or retribution.”

    “I hope that each of you will join in this ongoing national conversation about what our country, your country, is and ought to be, and that when you do, you will be tolerant of the differing viewpoints,” Keenum emphasized. “Congratulations on the citizenship that each of you have earned, and best wishes on your life and your future going forward.”

    The special event was presided over by the Honorable Sharion Aycock, an MSU alumna serving as Chief U.S. District Judge of the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Mississippi.

    Additionally, MSU alumna and District Judge Debra M. Brown, District Judge Glen H. Davidson and Magistrate Judge Jane M. Virden, along with Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman, were in attendance.

    At the ceremony, the National Anthem was performed by MSU student Christon Bertrand and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by MSU Student Association President Roxie Raven. The MSU State Singers performed “God Bless America.”

    The Daughters of the American Revolution presented the new citizens with American flags and copies of the U.S. Constitution, among other mementos.

    Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is conferred upon a foreign citizen or nationals after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

    The bureau of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processes all naturalization applications and provides the Court with a list of the candidates selected to be naturalized in the federal court.

    Naturalization ceremonies in the Northern District of Mississippi are usually held in the courthouses of Oxford, Aberdeen or Greenville, but have been held at various locations around Mississippi’s Northern federal judicial district. The ceremonies are set when USCIS has enough applicants to hold a ceremony.

    For additional information regarding Naturalization Ceremonies in the Northern District of Mississippi, contact Connie Armstrong at 662-234-1971.

    MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at