New American Satyakalyan Seelamneni: ‘America Took Me In as a Son’
(Between June 30 and July 4, we welcomed more than 7,000 new citizens during nearly 100 naturalization ceremonies in honor of Independence Day. We are featuring stories from some of these new Americans to show how immigrants add to the strength and character of our nation.)
Growing up in southern India, Satyakalyan Seelamneni first learned about the United States in high school and college. Through word of mouth and also by researching online, he learned that America was, as he puts it, "a land of opportunities and dreams and freedom." After completing his studies in India, he came to the United States to work. He remembers arriving in the United States in May 2011. Coming out of Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C., he distinctly remembers the moment that he stepped outside for the first time. "A huge flag was there in front of the airport, I felt that America was welcoming me with an open heart, and I instantly fell in love with this country at that moment."
A technology engineer for a bank, Seelamneni says that "America took me in as a son and taught me many things every day, including love, honesty, truth, respect, compassion and camaraderie." He remembers how his parents taught him the value of giving back to society, and how those values went hand in hand with making the decision to become a U.S. citizen. "America helped me to become a better person in my personal and professional life, and I wanted to give something back, and help the society in whatever way I could."
When asked about the process of becoming a citizen, he says that once he read about citizenship on the USCIS website, he was able to find what he needed and apply. "The USCIS website gave me all I needed to complete the process, it’s all right there." In addition, he remembers that, despite feeling nervous, the naturalization exam was a very positive experience. The USCIS officer who conducted his exam was, in his words, "professional and courteous," and even shared additional facts about American history with him after the exam had ended.
Above: Seelamneni shares his story at his naturalization ceremony
Finally, this past July 1, the big day arrived. Seelamneni became a U.S. citizen at a special naturalization ceremony at Fort Necessity, a historical battlefield in Pennsylvania from the 18th-century French and Indian War. When asked about the ceremony, he said: "I feel like I am a part of the history. I shared my experiences with other new citizens, we discussed how your future would be if you are honest and work hard, how the sky is the limit."