Pittsburgh inaugurates new citizens

Candidates+for+United+States+naturalization+gather+at+Schenley+Plaza+on+Monday+afternoon+to+officially+become+citizens.++Valkyrie+Speaker+%7C+Staff+Photographer
Back to Article
Back to Article

Pittsburgh inaugurates new citizens

Candidates for United States naturalization gather at Schenley Plaza on Monday afternoon to officially become citizens.  Valkyrie Speaker | Staff Photographer

Candidates for United States naturalization gather at Schenley Plaza on Monday afternoon to officially become citizens. Valkyrie Speaker | Staff Photographer

Candidates for United States naturalization gather at Schenley Plaza on Monday afternoon to officially become citizens. Valkyrie Speaker | Staff Photographer

Candidates for United States naturalization gather at Schenley Plaza on Monday afternoon to officially become citizens. Valkyrie Speaker | Staff Photographer

By Dylan Shaffer / For the Pitt News

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Without immigrants, there wouldn’t be a Cathedral of Learning.

“[Pitt’s neighbors] donated their own scarce resources, their own treasure, and their own sweat to complete the project,” Pitt Chancellor Patrick D. Gallagher said.

On Monday, Oct. 26 in Schenley Plaza, Pittsburgh welcomed another generation of immigrants into its city limits.

Michael Horvath, field office director of the United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services Pittsburgh,  granted U.S. citizenship to 20 candidates from 11 different countries, including Bhutan, Brazil and Taiwan. Chancellor Gallagher and Carnegie Mellon University President Subra Suresh welcomed the new citizens with words of praise and encouragement.

At noon, Horvath began the ceremony in front of a crowd of about 80 people, including the new citizens, their families and spectators. Betty Cruz, special initiatives manager for the Office of Mayor Bill Peduto, greeted the group and told the citizenship candidates that the city of Pittsburgh is grateful to be a part of their road to citizenship.

“The step that you are taking is so meaningful,” Cruz said. “We are so thankful to be sharing the journey with you.”

Smiling, the new citizens left the ceremony with a certificate of naturalization, a pocket-sized American flag on a short wooden pole and an envelope with replicas of historical American documents including the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Most importantly, the citizens left with the chance of a new life.

Among the country’s new members was Neela Neopaney, an immigrant originally from Bhutan. Neopaney has lived in the Pittsburgh area for 5 1/2 years with her family. For her, citizenship means “a big change in our [family’s] status.”

“I hope I’ll do something for [America],” Neopaney said.

In the past, USCIS has held naturalization ceremonies in the City-County Building, but as part of the Welcome Pittsburgh initiative — a part of a national movement to promote respect and collaboration between native and foreign people in America — Cruz said the city wanted to use the parks and public spaces in Pittsburgh to make the ceremony feel more communal.

Schenley Plaza, once a parking lot between two top universities welcomed those present for the third of five naturalization ceremonies in Pittsburgh this year. 

“We have beautiful parks, beautiful public spaces, so why not lead on this?” Cruz said.

For some, citizenship in a foreign country may seem daunting, but Suresh reassured the crowd when he addressed them that the rewards in America were worth the danger of leaving one’s home country. Suresh told the crowd the stories of some of CMU’s brightest students who were immigrants to the country.

“[CMU] has been enriched by waves of immigrants who have come here, starting with our founder, Andrew Carnegie,” Suresh said.

Suresh told the crowd the story of Carnegie “coming with nothing to the U.S. in 1848, and becoming the richest man in the world in 1900.”

Gallagher echoed Suresh’s remarks, and said immigrants are an important part of Pitt’s community and history, down to the structure of its buildings.

After the ceremony, Gallagher remarked how Pittsburgh’s vibrant diversity  will continue to shape its culture.

“[This ceremony] is important because it means that this region … has been poised to grow and succeed,” Gallagher said. “Now it really is starting to grow and succeed by drawing in new folks who want to be part of this.”

Leave a comment.