The annual Immigrant Journey Awards (IJA) were a success, as almost 200 individuals gathered under the same roof at Crowne Plaza Dallas for a common cause to highlight influential immigrant achievements and celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month. For the past six years, the ceremony has gained momentum, bringing together professionals, entrepreneurs, friends, and families alike to celebrate the impact that immigrants have had on the community.

With numerous award nomination submissions for 2017, presenting sponsor and Dallas law firm Scheef & Stone was pleased at the turnout and proud of those who made it as finalists and winners.

This year’s Immigrant Entrepreneur Award winners include Giuseppe Piccinini, Shanthi Rajaram, and Sudhir Pai. This category is granted to individuals who have built highly successful North Texas businesses, and who have set a great example for other motivated entrepreneurs around the state and nation. Gabriela Smith and Juan Williams were honored for the Immigrant Professional Excellence Award, which highlights immigrants who have made remarkable strides in a professional field.

The Immigrant Advocate Award, which goes to an individual, organization, business or government entity that has made a powerful and positive impact on the welfare of immigrants via public advocacy went to Etalemahu Taddesse Fikre and Gauthami Vemula. Lastly, the two Immigrant Spirit Award winners, Plano Council member Angela Miner and Madan Goyal, were recognized for contributing substantially to the well-being of the entire community through their influential platforms.

Three exceptional high school seniors, Adewale Adewuyi of Plano East High School, Aimee Shimwa of Conrad High School, and Devany Morales of Hillcrest High School, also received American Dream Scholarships to attend the college of their choice.

Announcing the 2017 IJA Finalists

The annual Immigrant Journey Awards (IJA) have gained momentum over the last six years, as the program highlights DFW’s most influential professional immigrants. With numerous award nomination submissions for 2017, presenting sponsor and Dallas law firm Scheef & Stone LLP is excited to announce the program finalists.

Finalists have been nominated for the categories of Immigrant Entrepreneur, Immigrant Professional Excellence, Immigrant Spirit and Immigrant Advocate. They represent a broad scope of immigrants living in North Texas communities with roots in places like Italy, Argentina, Greece, Australia, Ethiopia, Cambodia, and India.

This year’s finalists include leaders and influencers Angela Miner, CJ Comu, Etalemahu Taddesse, Gabriela Smith, Gauthami Vemula, Giuseppe (JP) Piccinini, Juan Williams, Madan Goyal, Pithou Nuth, Ruby Bhandari, Shanthi Rajaram, and Sudhir Pai. These spirited and excellent advocates and entrepreneurs will be honored June 16, 2017, at the Immigrant Journey Awards Gala from 6:30 to 9pm at the Crowne Plaza Dallas.

“We are blessed to have made it here in this amazing country that is still today the greatest country in the world to live in,” said JP Piccinini, Founder-CEO of JP & Associates Realtors and Immigrant Entrepreneur Award finalist. “If your journey here was anything like mine, you can appreciate and understand that anything worthwhile doesn’t come easy. Take pride in your achievement. You are living the American dream, the dream we hoped to live out as children.”

The awards serve as a great opportunity to meet notable immigrant individuals who have demonstrated leadership in business or in the civic arena, as well as individuals and organizations that advocate for immigrant communities. Attendees also have the chance to network with business owners, professionals, representatives of members of Congress, international dignitaries, local civic leaders and representatives, and the media.

Take this opportunity to hear keynote inspirational speaker Beatrix “Betty” Manetta, CEO of Argent and Asociar, two of the largest Hispanic-owned businesses in North Texas. Tickets can be purchased at www.immigrantjourney.org.

#honoringimmigrants #IamanImmigrant #immigrantjourny

Just 7 days left to nominate for the 2017 Awards

The clock is ticking!

Just 7 days left to nominate your choice for the 2017 Immigrant Journey Awards & help recognize the inspiring North Texas immigrants you know! To nominate – just fill out the nomination form at www.immigrantjourney.org and shine a spotlight on the outstanding business owners, professionals, and advocates making a positive impact in your community! Save the date for the award winner announcement on June 16, 2017!

Betty Manetta Announced as Keynote Speaker for the 2017 Immigrant Journey Awards Gala

We are so excited that 2016 immigrant entrepreneur award winner, Betty Manetta, will be our keynote speaker. Betty heads two of the top 10 Hispanic-owned businesses in north Texas. Her companies, Argent Associates and Asociar, generate over $300 million in annual revenues. Don’t miss hearing her inspiring story! Join us on June 16 for the Immigrant Journey Awards Gala.

Betty Manetta 2015 Picture.jpg
Beatriz “Betty” Manetta


Announcing American Dream Scholarships for 2017. Apply now!

Scheef & Stone is proud to announce three (3) American Dream scholarships of $1000 each for qualifying North Texas high school seniors.

You may apply for this highly sought-after scholarship if you:

Are home schooled or high school senior in traditional HS programs in North Texas
Are an immigrant or child of an immigrant
Will graduate from high school by Summer 2017
Plan to pursue a degree at an accredited U.S. post-secondary institution
Have a current GPA of 3.0 or higher
Winners should plan to attend the Immigrant Journey Awards ceremony on June 15, 2018.

For scholarship criteria and application materials, click here.


Announcing the 2017 Immigrant Journey Awards! Nominate your amazing North Texas leaders today.

In celebration of Immigrant Heritage Month in June, let’s shine a spotlight on amazing North Texas immigrants who have demonstrated outstanding achievements in business, profession, civic service, or advocacy.

Nominate now for these prestigious awards:

Immigrant Entrepreneur
Immigrant Professional Excellence
Immigrant Spirit
Immigrant Advocate

Nominations are due by April 28,  2017 but nominate by March 30 and get a chance to win two tickets to the awards ceremony!
Get the nomination information and application here.
2017 winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on Friday, June 16, 2017. Save the date and attend this inspirational event!
We appreciate your support and are looking forward to receiving a nomination from you!

USCIS Celebrates Constitution Day and Citizenship Day

WASHINGTON — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is celebrating Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, observed on Sept. 17, and Constitution Week, with nearly 240 naturalization ceremonies across the country. More than 38,000 candidates will become America’s newest citizens during the weeklong observance, being recognized this year from Sept. 16-23. The annual commemoration honors the signing of the Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787, and an observance that began in 1940 as “I Am an American Day.”

During Constitution Week, we celebrate the connection between the Constitution and citizenship and reflect on what it means to be a citizen of the United States. The Constitution plays a meaningful role in the lives of new Americans. It not only establishes the rule of law, but also creates the framework for an immigration system that enables immigrants to become full citizens with the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as any other.

“I’m proud to have the honor of administering the Oath of Allegiance at naturalization ceremonies across the country, where every day, new Americans vow to support and defend the Constitution of this great nation,” USCIS Director León Rodríguez said. “This Constitution Week, more than 38,000 more people will take the Oath and become America’s newest citizens, adding to the diversity, strength and character of our country.”

USCIS’ Constitution Week activities this year will feature a naturalization ceremony at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 16 – our 100th ceremony to be held at a national or historic site during the National Park Service’s (NPS) centennial year. During this event, Director Rodríguez will administer the Oath of Allegiance and deliver congratulatory remarks to 50 new Americans; Felicia Escobar, special assistant to the president for immigration policy, will give keynote remarks.

Ceremonies like this one highlight USCIS’ partnership with NPS to hold more than 100 naturalization ceremonies in national parks and historic sites this year as a part of NPS’ centennial celebration. USCIS has partnered with NPS since 2006 to honor our nation’s history and the places NPS is charged to protect. These picturesque and quintessentially American places inspire new citizens and those who witness naturalization ceremonies to celebrate and experience our country’s history and natural beauty, and to protect it for future generations.

In partnership with USCIS, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts is also holding judicial naturalization ceremonies nationwide to celebrate Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. Federal judges are presiding at naturalization ceremonies scheduled at courthouses, historic landmarks, and NPS sites, including such iconic locations as the Lincoln Memorial, where USCIS Chief of Staff Juliet K. Choi will deliver keynote remarks; Ellis Island; and Yosemite National Park.

Several other ceremonies will feature guest speakers, including NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Mary Giovagnoli, deputy assistant secretary for immigration policy at the Department of Homeland Security.

To view a complete list of 2016 Constitution Week naturalization ceremonies, visit uscis.gov/news.

The Constitution and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship are very important in the United States and prospective citizens may see them referenced in several places on the naturalization test. The civics test contains many questions on these two topics, including “What is the supreme law of the land?” and “What are two rights of everyone living in the United States?”

To help applicants prepare for the civics test, including questions about the Constitution, USCIS has 100 short videos on YouTube – one video for each possible civics question that prospective citizens may be asked. The videos include subtitles in six different languages, including English, Spanish, Chinese (traditional), Vietnamese, Korean and Tagalog.

USCIS is committed to promoting awareness and understanding of citizenship. We offer many free naturalization preparation resources for citizenship applicants and teachers, including study materials for the English test and civics test, in our Citizenship Resource Center. Immigrant-serving organizations can register to receive a free Civics and Citizenship Toolkit to help permanent residents prepare for naturalization.

This Constitution Week, we are also launching USCIS Instagram with a social media campaign, #MeetUS, featuring new citizens at naturalization ceremonies and showcasing how these immigrants add to the strength and character of our nation. We encourage new citizens and their families and friends to share their experiences and photos from naturalization ceremonies on social media using the hashtag #newUScitizen. For ceremonies held at NPS sites, attendees are also encouraged to use the NPS centennial hashtags #findyourpark and #NPS100.

Outstanding North Texas Leaders Receive Immigrant Journey Awards

Immigrant Journey Awards Awarded to Outstanding North Texas Immigrants
Scheef & Stone Spotlights Positive Immigrant Achievements

_33D0728The Immigrant Journey Awards, an awards ceremony aimed at placing a spotlight on immigrant achievements and contributions to North Texas and the nation, held its annual Awards luncheon on Friday June 10, 2016.  Awards were given to recognize this year’s most important contributors from the immigrant community to the civic and economic vitality of North Texas. Proceeds from the event are used to benefit the American Dream Scholarship for immigrant or first-generation American high school seniors in North Texas.

Emmy award-winning journalist Rebecca Aguilar served as the master of ceremonies and kept the crowd of approximately 120 attendees entertained.  Guests included local dignitaries such as the Honorary Consul of the Consulate of Ecuador, Honorable Ricardo Miguel Bowen and a representative from the congressional office of Marc Veasey.  Award finalists also received congratulatory letters from the congressional offices of Eddie Bernice Johnson and Marc Veasey.

Now in its fifth year, the Immigrant Journey Awards program has become a staple event in North Texas shining a light on immigrant citizens who have made positive contributions in their respective fields and communities.  The program, sponsored by Scheef & Stone LLP, was the brainchild of Ann Massey Badmus, Partner at Scheef & Stone.

“Immigrants make important positive contributions in every facet of life, from the business world to the public square,” said Badmus.  “We see these annual awards as a way to celebrate all of those contributions and advocate immigrants throughout North Texas and beyond.”

Award candidate nominations include entrepreneurs, advocates, civic leaders and individuals who have made substantial professional achievements in their field.  Finalists are awarded in the categories of Immigrant Entrepreneur, Immigrant Professional Excellence, Immigrant Spirit and Immigrant Advocate; there is typically more than one award winner in each category.  Of the many nominations received, nine winners were recognized and they represent a broad scope of immigrants living in North Texas communities with roots in countries including Pakistan, Argentina, Iran, India, and Ethiopia.