Good morning. Thank you, Dr. [Colleen] Shogan for your introduction and for your kind invitation to celebrate this incredible moment. Thank you, Judge [Elizabeth L.] Gunn for leading the Oath of Alliance.
MacArthur High school students – you are the future leaders, and knowing the meaningful words of our Constitution's preamble will empower you in the next chapters of your life. It is my privilege to share this great nation, America, with you.
Throughout our lives, we cross thresholds, and often0:53 obstacles often stand in the way of our goals. We persevere, as we understand that conquering them will provide great access to personal development, fulfillment and even eventually self-actualization.
For me, reaching the milestone of American citizenship marked the sunrise of certainty. At that exact moment, I forever discarded the layer of burden connected with whether I would be able to live in the United States. I hope you are blanketed with similar feelings of comfort right now.
Finally, I could plan all of the aspects of my life. I recall feeling a tremendous sense of pride and belonging after I recited the United States Oath of Alliance, as the pathway to citizenship is arduous.
I was born and raised in the picturesque country of Slovenia, where my parents taught me the importance of a strong work ethic and pursuing my dreams. The values they instilled in me at an early age inspired my fashion and modeling career and brought me to the beautiful cities of Paris and Milan.
While working internationally had its share of rules and regulations, it wasn't until I moved to New York City in 1996 that this system truly tested my determination. Upon my arrival, I immediately knew that I wanted to make the United States my permanent home.
With the goal of securing a worker visa, I began researching, visiting consulates and embassies, and compiling the required records of my work experiences. Quickly, my life turned into a labyrinth of organizing paperwork.
Back then, the convenience of technology’s document filing did not really exist to the extent it does today. Patience and preserverance became my constant companions as I navigated through this interstate3:26 web, which I am sure you can all relate to. Even if ever time consuming, my dream of becoming a citizen pushed me to meticulously gather every last piece of information required, ensuring that no detail was overlooked.
My personal experience of traversing the challenges of the immigration process opened my eyes to the harsh realities people face, including you, who try to become us citizens.
Then of course, there are nuances of understanding the United States immigration laws and the complex legal language contained therein. I was very devoted, but I certainly was not an attorney. And eventually it proved critical for me to retain counsel. I was fortunate to do so, as ultimately, my journey was streamlined and brought me over the finish line as a naturalized citizen.
While challenges were numerous, there were rewards well worth effort.
I applaud you for every step you took, every obstacle you overcome, and every sacrifice you made.
It is an honor to stand with you in these hallowed halls today in the presence of the Declaration of Independence, the very document on which our founding fathers carefully composed the words that capture their ideals surrounding individual liberty and this great republic, arguably one of the most important documents of all time.
Becoming an American citizen comes with responsibility. It means actively participating in the democratic process and guarding our freedom. It also means leading by example and contributing to our society. It is a life-altering experience that takes time, determination and sometimes even tremendous strength.
You are now a part of a nation with a rich history of progress, innovation and resilience. Though you come from 25 different countries, your dreams and inspirations intertwine with those who came before you since 1776 and together shaped the future of this extraordinary country.
Be proud of yourself, stand your ground, and embrace the opportunities that lie ahead. You are American. Be a beacon of inspiration for your children and those who follow in your footsteps.
May your journey continue to be filled with endless possibilities and may your contributions enrich the fabrics of this great nation.
“Melania Trump Remarks at National Archives Naturalization Ceremony.” C-SPAN video. Dec. 15, 2023. https://www.c-span.org/video/?c5098288/melania-trump-remarks-national-archives-naturalization-ceremony.
PBS NewsHour. “WATCH: Former first lady Melania Trump congratulates new Americans at citizenship ceremony.” YouTube video, 7:12. Dec. 15, 2023. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3ubDVTC6zM&t=1s