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'You are now the stewards of the U.S.': 30 Princeton community members become naturalized citizens at SPIA

30 people become U.S. citizens at a naturalization ceremony in the SPIA building.
Sameer A. Khan / Fotobuddy

Thirty people from the Princeton area became naturalized citizens of the United States as they took the Oath of Allegiance in the Arthur Lewis Auditorium at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) this week.

The new citizens come from 11 countries, including Canada, Egypt, Ghana, Hungary, India, Pakistan, Russia, Spain, Syria, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. 


SPIA Dean Amaney Jamal delivered a keynote address, and emphasized the tenets of inclusivity intrinsic to the American dream.

“The United States has always been committed to and held together by shared values of freedom, liberty, and equality,” Jamal said. “I’m proud that these values are also held dear by both Princeton University and the School of Public and International Affairs.”

“Both institutions promote and celebrate diversity in all of its forms, and seek to be a welcoming place for students, faculty, and administrators from all over the world,” she added.

The ceremony included a performance by Shere Khan, a University a cappella group, who sang a rendition of “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie. They also led the group in singing the national anthem.

Elina Lapina, who became a naturalized citizen, explained in an interview with The Daily Princetonian how special the experience felt to her. “I was very emotional. I was crying during the ceremony so I couldn’t stop my tears, but it was great,” she said. “I love America.”

University Assistant Vice President for Community and Regional Affairs Kristin Appelget welcomed the audience during the ceremony. Appelget emphasized that the event was an effort by the municipality’s human services department and the Princeton Public Library to promote inclusivity, unity, and diversity as part of Welcoming Week.


The ceremony also featured pre-recorded remarks from President Joe Biden, who celebrated the newly naturalized citizens, explaining that the United States is “more than just a place, but an idea, an idea where everyone is created equal and deserves to be treated equally.”

Jamal mentioned the life-changing opportunities that American citizenship can bring in her closing remarks.

“As citizens of the U.S., we are also citizens of the world,” she said. “As we build bridges of understanding, compassion and empathy, here in the U.S. and abroad, please don’t forget that you are now the stewards of the U.S. And the U.S. is now a stronger and a better place, here and in the world, because of you.”

Anika Buch is an associate news editor at the ‘Prince’ who typically covers STEM communities and on-campus research. She can be reached at

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Lia Opperman is an assistant news editor who often covers University affairs, student life, and local news. She can be reached at, on Instagram @liamariaaaa, or on Twitter @oppermanlia.