- Associated Press - Thursday, June 30, 2016

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) - This Fourth of July will be extra special for Southeast Missouri State University president Carlos Vargas-Aburto - he’ll become a U.S. citizen.

Vargas will be among those taking the oath of citizenship at a naturalization ceremony Monday as part of the “Great American Fourth of July” event in downtown Cape Girardeau, the Southeast Missourian (http://bit.ly/29dLJwa ) reported. Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri will be the guest speaker.

“I am very excited about it,” Vargas said. “I have been interested in doing this for a number of years.”

Festivities will include patriotic music, presentation of the Spirit of America Award and an evening fireworks show.

Vargas grew up in Mexico. His family had little money, but his parents understood the importance of education. America, he said, was always a fascination.

“I remember when I was very young, I had a strong attraction to American history and American culture,” he said.

Vargas was a physics major in college in came to the U.S. in 1973 to attend graduate school in Michigan. He returned to Mexico to teach at the university level, then returned to the U.S. in 1985 for a job at Kent State University.

Vargas held a number of administrative posts at schools in Ohio and Pennsylvania before being named president of Southeast Missouri State in March 2015. He officially began his duties on July 1, 2015.

The United States is “truly a land of opportunity,” Vargas said, offering opportunities for “people who are committed and make an effort to improve themselves.”

After becoming a citizen, Vargas said one of the things he looks forward to most is a simple right of citizenship: Voting.

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Information from: Southeast Missourian, http://www.semissourian.com

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