(May 28, 2015)

Student becomes American citizen

SHREVEPORT, LA — This spring Centenary student Juan Tapia '17 was celebrating more than the end of another school year as he and his family became citizens of the United States of America.

Juan with his parents at the SCAC Swim Championship

The accounting major was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and came to the United States in 2002 along with his parents and brother.

"My mom received a job offer to teach in Houston," said Tapia. "They knew this would be a great opportunity for us to learn English and live in another country."

Tapia and his family started the process of becoming citizens by taking the Citizenship Test that requires test-takers to answer questions about US history, the government, and geography. Juan also completed speech and writing tests to assess his English skills. After successfully passing all the assessments, Tapia and his family had only one more step in the process.

"When it was oath day for us, my family and I dressed up very nice and arrived at the courthouse at 7 a.m.," said Tapia. "Once we got to the court, we turned in some paperwork and then sat in a big auditorium with hundreds of other soon-to-be citizens. The judge came in and recited the oath with us, and then we became citizens."

The auditorium where Tapia and his family took the United States Oath of Allegiance

Tapia believes that becoming a citizen will provide him with enriched opportunities.

"This means a lot for me—better job opportunities, more diversity in my career, and having the chance to help others learn English."

The rising junior is an active member of the Centenary swim team. During the 2013-2014 school year he snatched the 2nd place record for the fastest Centenary 400-Individual Medley with a time of 4:08.33 which afforded him first place at the SCAC Swim Conference and the first time any Centenary student has won that race. The program, led by Butch Jordan, was what attracted Tapia to Centenary.

"I heard about Centenary College through one of my high school swim friends who was accepted," said Tapia. "He told me a lot of great things, so I decided to make a visit. I chose Centenary College over any other college because the swim program is great, the team is really close, and it was not too far from or too close to home."