'It's real': America welcomes 35 new citizens at suburban ceremony

  • Ivan Mazurenko of Buffalo Grove is sworn in as a U.S. citizen on Monday during a naturalization ceremony held at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe.

    Ivan Mazurenko of Buffalo Grove is sworn in as a U.S. citizen on Monday during a naturalization ceremony held at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Danielle Leclerc of Lake Villa shares a kiss with her husband, Serge Thibault, after she was sworn in as a U.S. citizen. Thibault took the oath in July. "I feel wonderful, I am very proud to be an American now, I've been waiting 24 years," Leclerc said.

    Danielle Leclerc of Lake Villa shares a kiss with her husband, Serge Thibault, after she was sworn in as a U.S. citizen. Thibault took the oath in July. "I feel wonderful, I am very proud to be an American now, I've been waiting 24 years," Leclerc said. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Oksana Zbytkovska of Wheeling holds a small American flag Monday after being sworn in as a U.S. citizen during a naturalization ceremony held at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe.

    Oksana Zbytkovska of Wheeling holds a small American flag Monday after being sworn in as a U.S. citizen during a naturalization ceremony held at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Danielle Leclerc of Lake Villa takes the oath to become a U.S. citizen Monday during a naturalization ceremony held at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe.

    Danielle Leclerc of Lake Villa takes the oath to become a U.S. citizen Monday during a naturalization ceremony held at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Thirty-five new U.S. citizens were sworn in Monday during a naturalization ceremony held at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe.

    Thirty-five new U.S. citizens were sworn in Monday during a naturalization ceremony held at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 10/20/2021 6:48 PM

Their journeys may have started in 16 different nations around the world, but for the 35 people who gathered Monday at Chicago Botanic Garden's Nichols Hall in Glencoe, the destination was the same: American citizenship.

Each holding small U.S. flags, the immigrants raised their right hand and were sworn in as new citizens by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer.

 
Oksana Zbytkovska of Wheeling, who is from Ukraine, is sworn in Monday as a U.S. citizen during a naturalization ceremony held at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. "It's real. I'm so happy," she said.
Oksana Zbytkovska of Wheeling, who is from Ukraine, is sworn in Monday as a U.S. citizen during a naturalization ceremony held at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. "It's real. I'm so happy," she said. - Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

"It means a lot to be part of this nation as a citizen," said Oksana Zbytkovska of Wheeling, who came to the U.S. from Ukraine six years ago. "It's real. I'm so happy to be a part of this great nation." Zbytkovska planned to call her family back in Ukraine after being sworn in to share the good news.

Taking the Oath of Allegiance with Zbytkovska were five fellow Ukraine expats, along with immigrants from Mexico, the Philippines, Canada, India, the United Kingdom, Guatemala, Poland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, China, the Dominican Republic, Israel, Italy, Russia and Switzerland.

"I'm good. I'm shaking (with excitement)," Ukrainian immigrant Ivan Mazurenko of Buffalo Grove said after the ceremony.

Among the dignitaries taking part was U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who embraced the group as fellow Americans.

"We are all immigrants, we are proud of our diversity," she said.

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