SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Over 50 different countries will be represented today at the naturalization ceremony at Missouri State University’s Juanita K. Hammons Hall, where 160 people will soon become United States citizens.

Once the ceremony is complete, the newly deemed U.S. citizens will be able to register to vote and apply for a U.S. passport.

The estimated time it takes to go through the entire process is anywhere between 18 months to two years.

During today’s ceremony, future U.S. citizens will take an oath of allegiance, which you must do to complete the process, and then they will receive a certificate of naturalization.

There will be multiple guest speakers at today’s ceremonies, including the MSU Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Dr. Juan Meraz, who is the keynote speaker of the event.

Dr. Meraz is celebrating his 40th anniversary of becoming a U.S. citizen.

Meraz said what better way to celebrate that anniversary than speaking from the heart to the people who get to experience the same joy he felt when he went through the process.

“To be the keynote speaker is an exciting opportunity,” Meraz said. “I don’t think I slept much last night because I was thinking: what am I going to say? Because I like to think off without notes because I’d like to use my brain instead and a lot of it is going to be internal.”

The event is open to the public. Parking is free at the Bear Park North parking garage.