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President Alexander Gonzalez Remarks
at U.S. citizenship ceremony
April 22, 2009

Alexander Gonzalez
Memorial Auditorium

Good morning and congratulations to all of you.

It really is an honor to be with you on this most important occasion.

I’m the son of immigrants, and I remember very well the challenges my family had to overcome to build lives as Americans.

Growing up in Los Angeles, we straddled two cultures and two languages, yet we were true to both.

Despite some hardships, my parents loved this country, and my father became a naturalized citizen as a result of his service in World War II. Years later, I would also serve my country as a young man in the United States Air Force.

But the real pride for them was that each of their seven children went on to become productive and loyal citizens who are not only proud of their country, but of their heritage as well.

Those beginnings set the path for my life, and as I look back on my life, I can’t but think of how fortunate I’ve been. For me, the keys to unlocking my potential were a strong sense of family, hard work and education.

The key of education is what I want to talk to you about today.

From my beginnings, today I am the president of a University that is only about four miles from where we are this morning.

Sacramento State has 29,000 students, and like me, many of them are the first in their families to attend college.

They come from neighborhoods and communities throughout the region and the world looking for an education and a better life. In many ways, I share some of the same characteristics as our students.

We welcome them with open arms as they study with us, live with us and grow with us.

In a way, they become part of a family, our family, the Sacramento State family. And when those first-generation students graduate, we ask them to stand while we give them a special round of applause at our commencement ceremonies.

This is an inspiration to all of us at the University. You can see the pride on their faces, and their families are often moved to tears.

It’s a special moment on a very special day.

I know that some of you are students – some of you over here – and I commend you for making education part of your lives.

Now, when you stand up today to take your oath, remember that your life and your journey begin anew today. You have studied America and lived in America, but your growth from this point forward is up to you.

As you pursue your dreams, I urge you – and I really do mean this – to keep learning about the world. This can be through formal education or on your own.

Continue to make education a part of the culture in your family and discover the opportunities that await in our great nation.

Congratulations once again, and thank you very much for allowing me to share this important day with you. Congratulations to all of you.