Yasmine Fafana Seidu, above left, formerly of Ghana, Prince Omar Sanneh, formerly of Gambia, and Zubaidah Khanam, formerly of Pakistan, take the Oath of Allegiance during a naturalization ceremony Wednesday at Findlays Winebrenner Theological Seminary. Fifty-two new U.S. citizens took the oath. Below, Claudia Stefanie St John, formerly of Bolivia, and her 5-year-old daughter, Savannah, pose for a photo after the ceremony. (Photos by Randy Roberts / The Courier)


Fifty-two new United States citizens took the Oath of Allegiance Wednesday afternoon in a ceremony at Findlay’s Winebrenner Theological Seminary.

Jeffery Helmick, a United States district judge for the Northern District of Ohio, presided over the citizenship ceremony for 52 immigrants from 25 countries.

“It’s we who thank you for joining us, not the other way around,” Helmick told the new citizens. “Just a few minutes ago, you and I were citizens of different countries. Now, with our different backgrounds, we’re bonded tightly together to the common Constitution.”

He spoke about Shiv Kumar Gupta, a University of Findlay professor from India who died in November at age 87.

Gupta, his wife Elizabeth, and their five children — a sixth was born later — moved to the United States in 1965.

After receiving a master’s degree from the University of Dayton, he began teaching at what was then Findlay College in 1969.

“Professor Gupta’s good fortune in landing a job and coming here turned out to be the university’s good fortune as well,” Helmick said.

Gupta helped develop the College of Business and some of its programs, Helmick said.

“He loved America, and he loved its entrepreneurial spirit. He embraced it like no one, developed it and shared it with countless students during his tenure here,” Helmick said.

Gupta developed early computer simulation games, including one in which players make decisions about how to run a lemonade stand, and another titled “Producing and Marketing Popcorn with Pizzazz.”

He taught for 48 years, “teaching and inspiring thousands upon thousands of students,” Helmick said.

The judge said one of Gupta’s daughters, Anita Kromer, told Helmick that Gupta “never forgot where he came from, and how the freedoms he enjoyed here allowed him to thrive.”

“Dare to dream,” Helmick told the new citizens. “But act upon those dreams: Innovate. Create. Grow. And teach. And share.”

New citizens came from these countries: nine from Mexico; six from Canada; five from India; four from Venezuela; three each from Nigeria and South Korea; two each from Ghana, Italy and Jordan; and one each from Bolivia, China, the Czech Republic, El Salvador, Gambia, Germany, Guyana, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Pakistan, Panama, Romania, South Africa, Thailand and Vietnam.

During the ceremony, high school seniors Julia Weigman of Findlay, Kali Heaston of Arcadia, Gabrielle Rodriguez of Riverdale, Jessica Haught of Arlington and Alyssa Jordan of Arlington spoke about the benefits and obligations of citizenship.

The Riverdale High School a cappella choir and the Arlington High School all-brass band provided music.

VIDEO: Winebrenner hosts naturalization ceremony

Rubright: 419-427-8417
Send an E-mail to Kathryne Rubright
Twitter: @kerubright