CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - "I'm excited for myself because I am feeling I am now complete."
For Dr. Carlos Vargas, Independence Day 2016 will mark an end to what he calls a "transformational" year. It began with him becoming president at Southeast Missouri State University, and ends with him becoming an American citizen.
He calls it an exciting time for him and his family.
"My son has been a Marine and he has had two tours of duty. And so for him it is also very meaningful that I am now actually taking this step to become a US Citizen because he is a US citizen," he said.
Vargas said after he started at Southeast one year ago, it became clear to him how important it would be for him to take this final step.
"If I were in another country and I were a citizen of that country and I have somebody coming into a position like this one, a position that is very visible where I am responsible for educating the children of the country, I thought somebody might say shouldn't that be a citizen of the United States," he said.
Born in Mexico City, Vargas first came to the United States to pursue a PhD.
He became a permanent resident in November 1985, continuing his career in higher education.
Vargas said bringing people of other backgrounds together is part of what makes America great.
"So, I see myself as being one of those individuals that is contributing to making this country even better," he said.
He said he hopes people can sense his passion and commitment to this region, his students and our country.
"To me, this is a culmination of a process that started a long time ago but it's now taking place," Vargas said. "So I'm really excited. The fact that it's on the Fourth of July makes it even more meaningful to me."
Dr. Vargas will be one of 14 people taking the oath of citizenship at a ceremony in front of the Common Pleas Courthouse the evening of July 4 as part of Cape Girardeau's Independence Day celebration.