39 people become American citizens at pre-Independence Day ceremony

      By Stacy

      CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The 39 people who became American citizens Wednesday at a naturalization ceremony at Middleton Place come from around the world. People from 24 countries took their oath of citizenship.

      But for them, only one country is now home.

      "Congratulations. You are now the newest United States citizens," U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Charleston field office director Wendy Wilcox said at the ceremony.

      For one man from Ghana, hard work has paid off. After 20 years in the U.S., the ceremony reminded him of a valuable lesson.

      "The sky is the limit. So I have to take the opportunities given to me to maximize my potential," he said.

      Beatrice Frask Ramos left the podium with pure excitement.

      "I am so happy to be American! I really, really am overjoyed," she said.

      The French-born woman said she became enamored with the U.S. while living in Normandy, France. She worked in a World War II museum there when she decided she wanted to take an unconventional path and move to the U.S.

      Ramos secured a Fulbright scholarship and a teaching visa to become a professor at the University of Delaware. For years, as she went from Delaware, to Johns Hopkins University, to Duke University and finally the College of Charleston, she renewed her visa each semester.

      "It was like a kind of slavery. I was dependent on a specific job," Ramos said.

      Sick of the uncertainty, she drove to Washington, D.C. in 2009 to seek a green card. Sen. Lindsey Graham's office helped her get it, she said. Recently, she filled out the paperwork and become a U.S. citizen.

      "I love the principles on which your country was founded. Now it's my country and I'm so overwhelmed with joy. This is a beautiful land of opportunity," she said.

      And as mother and daughter leave, with mom being a citizen for the first time, Ramos hoped her daughter would hold on to the values of freedom and hard work that brought her and many others the U.S.