To become an American citizen, you have to apply through the government and meet several criteria depending on age, nationality and years lived in the United States. Additionally, have no felony convictions and be able to pass an exam where your knowledge of U.S. history and government is tested. Everyone who is interested in this process must also be able to speak, read and write in English. There are many steps that are required including extensive paperwork, long interviews and trips back and forth to the nearest immigration location. It is a commitment to complete this process. Last week Darren Iozia, Alban Haxhinasto, and Eric Bonosanga Mputu, all of Jacksonville, were sworn in as United States Citizens by the Honorable Sue E. Myerscough, U.S. District Judge in Springfield.
Iozia was born and raised in the United Kingdom and moved to the United States in the late 1980s. Finishing high school and graduating from Valencia College, Iozia went on to photograph and write for newspapers throughout Central Florida, even establishing and owning his own at one point. “The publishing business has always fascinated me,” he said, adding that the business has changed over the years and the key is to adapt. Currently, he is the managing editor of The Source Newspaper, in addition to his photography and design business. He enjoys swimming, cycling, running, and participating in Rotary International, member of 8 Points Charter School board of directors and the Jacksonville Symphony Society board of directors. His parents are U.S. citizens and currently live in Orlando, Fla.
Moving to Jacksonville in 2012 with his wife, Nikki, he decided that this is where his heart is. “I’m proud of where I come from but this is my home. I’m an American now through naturalization and will always defend our country,” he said. Iozia loves to spend time with his wife at their home with their three dogs, Duncan, Bessie and Tilly. “We have such a nice life here, our friends, neighbors and the area is such a blessing.”
Alban Haxhinasto was born in Tirana, Albania. In 1997 Alban came to the U.S. as an exchange student at Meredosia Chambersburg High School and lived in Chambersburg, Ill.
After graduating in 1998, Haxhinasto decided to attend Illinois College and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a major in Economics and Business Administration and a minor in Finance.
Haxhinasto began his career at The Farmers State Bank and Trust Company in 2002 as a full time teller. Shortly after that, he moved to the Bookkeeping Department and was appointed Operations Manager II. Haxhinasto was appointed Assistant Cashier in 2009. Haxhinasto then went on to graduate from the University of Illinois Springfield with a Master of Business Administration degree in December 2009. In 2010, Alban transferred to the EDP Department. He was selected to manage the Operation Services Department, formerly known as the Bookkeeping Department, in December 2011 and is currently Operation Services Manager.
Haxhinasto is a member of the Jacksonville Rotary Club and Treasurer of Rotary District 6460 Youth Exchange Program. He sits on the Governing Board for the 8 Points Charter School. Alban is a Trustee of the Passavant Area Hospital Foundation Board of Trustees. He is a member of the executive board of the West Central Illinois World Affairs Council, and he serves on the Allocations Panel of Prairieland United Way. He is also a charter member and served on the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Board as Division Vice President of the Young Professionals Network. He is a former Board member of the Jacksonville Theatre Guild and former member of the Design Committee for Jacksonville Main Street. Haxhinasto lives in Jacksonville with his wife Elizabeth. Becoming a U.S. Citizen for Alban is a dream come true. He has lived the majority of his adult life in the United States. By being in the United States, Alban has had many opportunities and he enjoys giving back to the community that he calls home.
Eric Bonosanga Mputu of Kinshasa, DR Congo, moved to New York on Nov. 3, 2008. He has resided in Jacksonville since April 2009. Mputu studied two years at the University of Kinshasa and is currently a student at Lincoln Land Community College. Mputu works at Cargill.