METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - Thirty-four candidates from nearly 20 countries became U.S. citizens Friday at Country Day school, pledging allegiance to the United States at a time when immigration policies are under intense scrutiny.
And for the first time in its 87-year history, a sitting governor visited the Old Metairie school to witness the naturalization ceremony.
"We are a diverse nation of hard work, and that's what makes this country great, and you all will make us greater than we were," said Gov. John Bel Edwards.
The candidates have had to show a basic understanding of English, U.S. history, and government.
"It means the whole world to me, can't explain it," said Thuong Tran holding his citizenship certificate. "Endless opportunity, whatever I want to be or do, this is my life right there.
The ceremony was the culmination of a 20-year dream.
"Been waiting for this all my life," Tran said. "It's more than life - just awesome."
For Mohammad Hassan of Nigeria, it means an opportunity to rejoin family members who are already in the U.S.
"It's important to me, very important. I feel like a family now to the United States," said Hassan.
Both men have big dreams. Hassan already has his major picked out at Jackson State.
"Civil engineering," Hassan said, adding he would someday like to build a bridge.
Tran, is a sushi chef.
"Maybe I will have my own restaurant someday, and if I do, come and visit me," he said with a laugh.
Both men believe that in spite of thoughts to the contrary, they are now citizens of a country that will allow the fulfillment of limitless dreams.
"In Vietnam you don't get the opportunity, but in America, you can be whatever you want and more," said Tran.