Honduras-born Freshman Becomes U.S. Citizen
The first thing you notice about Alejandro Orellana is his big smile. It seems to stretch from ear to ear.
The Honduras-born freshman at Alma College has a reason to smile: He became a U.S. citizen on Sept. 23.
“He came to me and asked for permission to miss class in order to attend the swearing-in ceremony in Pennsylvania,” says Greg Baleja, professor of business administration. “I’ve been teaching for 30 years and have heard many excuses, but this was the first time I heard this particular one. I congratulated him and said, by all means, go and get your citizenship.”
Orellana, who goes by Alex, is a National Hispanic Scholarship recipient and joins 10 National Merit finalists as members of the class of 2013. Alma College is one of the few colleges in the nation that offers full scholarships to National Merit finalists, National Achievement and National Hispanic Scholarship recipients.
“I first heard about Alma College in the mail,” says Alex. “I got a letter in December, started investigating the College and looked at the Website. Alma was perfect for me.”
He deposited early, long before visiting campus. He came to Alma for the first time in August along with his father and grandmother.
“I like Alma College,” he says. “It’s small and quiet.”
Originally from the Honduras capital of Tegucigalpa, Alex and his brother came to the United States in 2003, attending middle school and high school in Middleton, Pa. After fulfilling the five-year residency requirement, Alex sent in his paperwork for U.S. citizenship in June. He took his citizenship test and then was invited to Harrisburg, Pa., to take the oath.
“We started with the Pledge of Allegiance, then we raised our hands and repeated the oath,” he says. “Then we saw a video of congratulations from President Obama and then received our certificates.”
About 60 individuals of all ages took the oath along with Alex.
Alex, who plans to major in international business, already has joined the Students in Free Enterprise student organization and plans to participate in other clubs.
“He’s a dedicated student from a very close-knit family who takes his education seriously,” says Karen Jezewski, who recruited Alex to attend Alma. “He knows French, Spanish and English and is also taking Chinese. That’s pretty impressive for an 18-year-old student.”
Posted: Mon, October 19th, 2009 at 8:42AM