Wayland professor earns United States citizenship

PLAINVIEW – In a time when patriotism is being questioned and political parties are in turmoil, there is one group of people who understand what it means to be a citizen of the United States of America ‑‑ immigrants who have earned citizenship status.

On Friday, the School of Fine Arts at Wayland Baptist University celebrated as Associate Professor of Communication and Media Studies Dr. Yahui Zhang returned from Fort Worth where she participated in a ceremony completing the naturalization process and becoming an official citizen of the United States of America.

Zhang said choosing to become a citizen was very personal and the love and support showed by her co-workers and students, who decorated her office with streamers, balloons and small United States flags, was overwhelming.

“This is my adopted country,” Zhang said. “Personally, to me, although there are a lot of realities that we still have to work with, the American ideals are just so high and lofty that I strongly identify with them. That is one of the most important reasons that I decided to become a naturalized citizen.”

Zhang, originally from Xi’an, China, came to the United States 14 years ago with her husband to pursue an education.

“I taught English when I was in China,” she said. “My husband and I knew that the best universities are in the United States. He, and myself, really wanted me to get the highest degree. That’s why we came to the United States. This is the land of opportunity.”

Zhang began the naturalization process in October of 2015. Her final interview was held on Feb. 20 with the swearing in ceremony taking place on the 25th. At a time when the country is mired in a presidential election, Zhang is hoping she can be registered in time to vote in the general election. She said there was a group at the ceremony handing out information and guidelines for completing voter registration. Zhang said it will take her some time to go through the packet of information, but she is looking forward to being able to vote. In Texas, citizens must be registered 30 days prior to the election to be eligible to vote.

“This will be my first time exercising my right and responsibility as a citizen,” she said.

And while the current campaigns are heating up, she is not intimidated by the nature of American politics.

“It is polarized,” she said of the political situation, “but it’s still a democratic election process and we have to be grateful for that.”