On September 12, 2019, Cecile Salonga walked into the Columbus Community Legal Services Clinic with one goal — to vote in the 2020 presidential election. Salonga, a mother, wife, friend, teacher, and native of the Philippines, was determined to become a United States citizen and vote because, for years, she was a bystander during elections. Under the supervision of Stacy Brustin, Director of the Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Clinic (IRAC), Alexandros Bazekis '20—prior to his passing in November 2019—and Kelechi Eke (3L) worked tirelessly on the case; they gathered information, conducted multiple interviews with Salonga, and carefully drafted the naturalization application to maintain consistency throughout the Form N-400.
Almost a year after applying, on November 2, 2020, Salonga was sworn in as a United States citizen. Because Salonga lives in the District of Columbia, which has same-day voter registration, she was able to register and vote on November 3, 2020. This year, Salonga was no longer a bystander in the election, and her vote counted. In her own words, “I was so proud when I was voting because I really wanted to get my citizenship to be able to vote. For me, this is a historical moment in my life.”