Student veteran celebrates July Fourth as a new citizen
As a teenager, Andy Shin ’23, M.P.A. ’25, spent Independence Day volunteering at the festivities in his hometown of Diamond Bar, California; already he associated the Fourth of July with service, community and the diversity he had come to love in the U.S.
But Shin didn’t feel entirely a part of that community – because he wasn’t a U.S. citizen.
“I really, really wanted to become an American,” Shin said. “I knew this is where I wanted to live. I saw so much potential here, and as corny as it sounds, I really love this country.”
Shin’s mother had immigrated from South Korea with Shin, then 12, and his older brother in 2010; she wanted her sons to have access to higher quality education.
Twelve years later – after graduating high school, enlisting in the U.S. Army, and nearly finishing his undergraduate studies at Cornell – Shin gained his citizenship last November.
“There were so many moments where I thought about just giving up,” Shin said. “But I made a promise to myself that I would do it, and I wanted to see it through.”
With citizenship, Shin can now plan his future in the states. “It gave me the most American thing: freedom,” Shin said. “Now I have the confidence to pursue any area I want to be immersed in.”