PLATTSBURGH — Annie Rochon of Peru said she felt like she was going to cry as she said the Pledge of Allegiance for the first time as an American citizen.
“For me today — it is bigger than my wedding, anything I’ve done so far. It’s the biggest step,” she said.
Rochon, along with her husband, Robert Wayne Plessis-Belair, and daughter, Amanda Lea Plessis-Belair, 18, is one of 22 people who became naturalized citizens of the United States on Friday at the Clinton County government offices in Plattsburgh.
“I commend you for making that decision to become an American citizen,” said Judge Patrick R. McGill, who presided over the naturalization ceremony.
“I thank you for choosing my country in which to fulfill your dreams.”
Rochon, originally from Montreal, has lived in the United States with her family for 10 years and now has dual-citizenship.
She works as a professor at Paul Smith’s College in the School of Commercial, Applied and Liberal Arts.
“I’m really excited because I teach a course in Latin Studies and I can share with students what is the process of immigration,” she said.
John Alie Conteh, originally of Sierra Leone, came to the United States in January 2002 and got his green card in 2007.
He earned his master’s degree in community counseling from the University of Rochester in 2004 and his doctorate in counselor education and supervision from Argosy University in Washington, D.C., in 2013.
Conteh moved to Plattsburgh in August 2013, and now works as an assistant professor in counselor education at SUNY Plattsburgh.
“Becoming a citizen was something I had to put on the backburner for a while so I could focus on education,” he said.
“After I got a job at SUNY Plattsburgh as an assistant professor, there was no excuse anymore,” he added, grinning.