UW Faculty Members are New U.S. Citizens

August 5, 2013
Group of people in court house
These five University of Wyoming faculty members couldn’t contain their joy after obtaining their U.S. citizenship at a recent ceremony in Cheyenne. From left are Tiberiu Popa, Sugata Tan, Lamia Goual, Mohammad Piri and Margareta Stefanovic. (Garth Nagel Photo)

All of them say it is among the most important days of the lives, one that they will always remember.

In a July 8 ceremony in Cheyenne, five University of Wyoming College of Engineering and Applied Science faculty members joined thousands of others across the country who on that day became citizens of the United States.

The faculty members who participated in the naturalization ceremony were Lamia Goual, Algeria, and her husband Mohammad Piri of Iran, both in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering; Tiberiu Popa, Romania, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering; Margareta Stefanovic, Serbia, Department of Electrical Engineering; and Sugata Tan, Indonesia, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering.

“It was a long dream for me to live and work in the United States, to explore the many professional and personal opportunities offered here,” says Stefanovic, an associate professor who came to UW in 2005 after obtaining a Ph.D. in electrical engineering at the University of Southern California. “Becoming a citizen has thus been an important part of that journey.”

Tan, a researcher who came to the U.S. in 1999 and earned a Ph.D. at UW in 2004, says becoming a citizen is the only way to fully participate in the democratic process.

“The U.S. offers opportunities for anyone who has capabilities and willingness to work hard, regardless of ethnic background, religion and so forth,” he says. “Everything is possible on this land.”

Goual, an assistant professor who first came to UW in 2006 as a research scientist with the Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute, says she felt it was important to obtain citizenship to be able to contribute and make a difference in her new homeland. She says there are practical benefits from obtaining citizenship, such as the ease of traveling in some other countries with an American passport.

And she sums up the joy the entire group experienced when they finally achieved their dream to become U.S. citizens.

“I’m proud to be an American,” she says. “It’s the best country in the world.”

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