Washington, DC – Patrick A. Corvington, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, was recognized as an "Outstanding American by Choice" by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during a naturalization ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial today.
Established by USCIS in January 2006, the Outstanding American by Choice initiative recognizes the outstanding achievements of naturalized U.S. citizens. Through civic participation, professional achievement, and responsible citizenship, recipients of this honor have demonstrated their commitment to this country and to the common civic values that unite us as Americans.
The award was presented to Corvington by USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas and National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis.
Corvington, who is of Haitian descent, immigrated to the United States as a teenager and became an American citizen in 1993. In accepting the award, he reflected back on his own oath of citizenship.
"I know this is a moment of pride for you and your families. I know the pride you feel because 17 years ago, on a windswept day in an inner city park in Baltimore, I raised my right hand and took the oath of citizenship – the same oath you just took. As an immigrant from Haiti that day stands, as I’m sure [it does] for you, as one of the proudest moments of my life. And never did I imagine that just over 17 years later, it would lead me here to this historic place on this historic day."
Corvington described how America is made up of the lives and dreams of millions of immigrants who came from different parts of the world on one common journey to one common end.
"You – we – stepped into the current of American history like the countless before us and added our lives, our experiences, our stories, to this tapestry, to this America … Mine is the American Story. Yours is the American story. Together, ours is the story that built this country. Every time new immigrants become citizens, we prove to the world that this idea, this idea that is America, is a powerful one – an idea that is a bright light that draws us to it."
Corvington also encouraged the new citizens from 17 countries to carry out the responsibility of an American citizen by giving back to others through service.
"As immigrants, we know that none of us would be here without the helping hand of a parent or a teacher or maybe a neighbor from our city, town, or village who believed in us and wanted to see us succeed. It's now our turn – our turn to give to those around us, those in our communities. This country has been good to me; it has been good to you, to all of us. So I encourage you to become involved in your communities, to be another block in the building of our more perfect union. Because we are Americans, because we earned our way here, it is our responsibility – our moral duty – to become fully engaged citizens. By giving back, by serving others, we will continue to tell this American story. We will write our history."
The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve America, and the Social Innovation Fund and leads President Obama’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit NationalService.gov.