LMC’s Barbara Craig becomes U.S. citizen
Published 10:03 am Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Now that she is a citizen of the United States, Barbara Craig said she is looking forward to doing three things that come with her newly earned status.
• Say the Pledge of Allegiance with her 10-year-old daughter.
• Be on a jury.
“(Voting) is a privilege that we really should exercise, not just because so many throughout history have not had the opportunity, but also to be a part of the solution,” said Craig, dean of Lake Michigan College’s Bertrand Crossing Campus in Niles. “Like those who worked hard to pass a bond proposal in Niles — (they) should now be proud of the positive impact it will have on this community.”
Craig, who lives in St. Joseph, Michigan, became a U.S. citizen along with more than 70 others at a naturalization ceremony last month in Grand Rapids.
Craig was born and raised in Oxford, England, but moved to the United States in the mid-1990s in order to be with her husband — a Stevensville, Michigan, man she met while living in England.
“We liked each other a lot and decided to stay together… we’ve now been married nearly 25 years,” she said.
Craig has been the dean of Bertrand Crossing since 2009 and is an active member of many civic organizations in southwest Michigan. She was named Woman of the Year by the Four Flags Area Chamber of Commerce in 2012.
After living permanently in the U.S. for the past 20 years, Craig said she decided it was time to complete the naturalization process.
“It was just time for me to vote and be a more active participant in civic life,” she said. “It felt right.”
Craig applied online in June and began the long process toward earning her citizenship, which included filling out several forms, an interview about her standing as a U.S. resident and a test about U.S. history and government.
Craig said it was a fairly smooth process.
“They were very welcoming,” Craig said. “It was a friendly, nice experience.”
The naturalization ceremony took place May 20 in an auditorium at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids.
A federal judge welcomed Craig and the other new citizens while elementary school students sang songs like “America the Beautiful,” “God Bless America” and the “Star Spangled Banner.”
Craig said she took the Oath of Allegiance and heard a stirring speech from a judge who said the only person more important than the president is the citizen.
“I thought that was a really powerful statement,” said Craig.
The new citizens then were given the opportunity to register to vote.
“That was my favorite part,” said Craig, adding that she is a dual-citizen: U.S. and British.
“It is pretty emotional for my parents… I am still British and I still love England and everything about being there. That will always be home, home,” Craig said. “But, I’ve been here 20 years and this really is my community, my home and I feel like I need to (be a U.S. citizen).”
Craig said she is also looking forward to saying the Pledge of Allegiance with her daughter and at the next Rotary Club meeting in Niles.
“I never thought I’d earned the right to do it, so I never said it,” she said. “It should be pretty moving for the first time.”