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Family celebrates reading, citizenship milestones

Jennifer Stultz
jstultz@pratttribune.com
Juan Villanueva Jr. recently earned a special recognition for reading 1,000 books at the Macksville City Library. In January 2020 his father, Juan Francisco Villanueva Holguin, earned his American citizenship status with a special ceremony in Wichita, which he pursued in order to give his son better opportunities.

When the Macksville City Library welcomed Juan Manuel Villanueva Jr., the son of Juan and Iris Villanueva, recently to their 1,000 Book Wall of Fame, it was a very special occasion. Not only was Juan, Jr. excited to become a new mini-Mustang and win an award for reading 1,000 books during his pre-school years, but his father, Juan Francisco Villanueva Holguin, a new American citizen, was especially proud as well.

"My brain really likes reading 1,000 books," Juan Jr. said.

He also said that his mom read the most books to him and that he even read the "The Very Hungry Caterpillar Book" by himself. But that was not his most favorite book. His favorite was "Pig the Fibber" by Aaron Blabey, because it was so very funny, he said.

For Juan Sr., the fact that his son could read, loved to read and had the opportunity and access to books at the Macksville City Library, was very special.

"I did not do too well in school," Holguin (Juan Sr.) said. "I moved here from Mexico when I was young, and I didn't think school was too important."

For Holguin, the chance to become an American citizen as he did on January 10, 2020 was very important because it gave his son Juan Jr. a better chance to become educated, with more opportunities for success in his life.

"I have always been a law-abiding, hard worker," Holguin said. "But I always wanted to become an American citizen so I could give my kid a better future. That's why I went through the naturalization process. It was all worth it."

To gain American citizenship, Holguin, who has lived in Stafford County and worked at Golden Belt Feeders as a mechanic for more than 10 years, had to attend classes, memorize the Pledge of Allegiance and learn a lot about American history. Then he was tested on his knowledge.

After he passed his tests provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Holguin took part in a naturalization ceremony at Wichita State University with more than 150 new American citizens earlier this year.

"The ceremony started at 8 a.m. and didn't last that long," Holguin said. "But we waited around until almost noon for all the pictures."

Father and son, and other family members, will both likely remember their educational achievements celebrated in 2020.

For more information about becoming an American citizen please visit uscis.gov. For information about a specific case call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283. Applicants may apply for citizenship and permanent resident cards online.

To learn more about the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program which is free and open to children preschool age and younger, call 620-614-7099, email, or stop by the Macksville City Library. The library website at Macksvillelibrary.com also has information about other library programs, new links for those "stuck at home" and information about current temporary hours and policies.