Barry McNamara  |   Published March 29, 2022

Citizen Mane

After decade living in U.S., Monmouth’s Owen Mane-Davies officially gains citizenship.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – For the past decade, Monmouth College junior Owen Mane-Davies has been living in limbo.

IT'S OFFICIAL: Owen Mane-Davies poses in Chicago with his U.S. citizenship documentation. IT'S OFFICIAL: Owen Mane-Davies poses in Chicago with his U.S. citizenship documentation.Born a British citizen, he’s lived in the United States since he was 11 years old, only returning once to England.

Eighteen months ago, Mane-Davies – who graduated from suburban Plainfield (Illinois) South High School – decided to do something about that state of limbo, starting the process to become a U.S. citizen.

“I filled out the application, paid the $800 fee, and I waited,” he said. “Last December, I was notified to come to Chicago for an interview, which was done on Feb. 22. And then I did the oath of naturalization on March 15.”

That day, he was among a group of 34 people from 28 countries who received their citizenship. Some of the other countries represented were Ukraine, the Congo and South Africa.

“There were a lot of interesting people there,” said Mane-Davies. “There were younger people and people significantly older than me. The judges get to make their own speech at these ceremonies, and our judge commented on the fact that we were such a diverse group. He said, ‘This is what makes America great.’”

“Even though I’ve spent a while in the United States, I felt like ‘You’re an American now.’ It’s almost like I’d gotten a stamp of approval from the United States. I felt honored to be a part of it. It feels like a privilege.” Owen Mane-Davies

 

He recalled his mindset immediately following the ceremony.

“Even though I’ve spent a while in the United States, I felt like ‘You’re an American now,’” he said. “It’s almost like I’d gotten a stamp of approval from the United States. I felt honored to be a part of it. It feels like a privilege.”

And Mane-Davies also expressed a lighthearted take on his new status.

“I joke that now I can commit a felony, and I won’t get kicked out of the country,” he said.

Headed to law school

But Mane-Davies plans to be not only a law-abiding citizen, but also a law-practicing one.

“I’m looking at a few law schools – the University of Denver, the University of Wisconsin and some schools out east,” said Mane-Davies, who will graduate from Monmouth in December. “I’m planning to get into counterterrorism and work for the federal government. That’s what my senior research is on – thinking about policies for counterterrorism. Right now, countries take more of a reactive response rather than preventive measures.”

Mane-Davies is studying political science after first setting out to be an English major. He said he was drawn to Monmouth by its size, and also by the tenacity of a now-retired admissions counselor.

Peter Pitts kind of forced me to come to a ‘Make It Monmouth’ event,” said Mane-Davies, who’d been looking at universities such as Iowa and Wisconsin. “But I didn’t really like the big-school vibe. I decided I wanted a school that was in the 800- to 2,000-student range, and Monmouth fit the bill.”

Once on campus, he was influenced by political science professor Andre Audette, who also helped steer him into the College’s annual moot court competition.

MAKING HIS POINT: Owen Mane-Davies is shown competing as a finalist during last fall's annual... MAKING HIS POINT: Owen Mane-Davies is shown competing as a finalist during last fall's annual moot court competition.“I think moot court really prepares students well,” said Mane-Davies, who was a finalist last fall in his second attempt at the competition. “You’re in front of professors and people of authority, and you have to argue a point. It’s not like just arguing with your mom about something. Being in that high-powered environment really prepares you well, and it makes it a little less terrifying in the future knowing you have that experience. I’ve gotten used to it now, so I’m looking forward to having even more fun with it in my final one next fall.”

Moot court is far from his only campus involvement. Mane-Davies serves as chapter president of Zeta Beta Tau fraternity, as well as president of the Order of Omega honor society for members of Greek organizations. Additionally, he’s the parliamentarian for Scots Student Senate.

Making the adjustment

Mane-Davies said one of his first memories of being in the United States was driving to his new home from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, and his stepfather making a right turn on a red light.

“England is slightly bigger than Illinois. But I remember thinking, ‘Now I’m in a country where there’s 50 Illinois.’” Owen Mane-Davies

Soon, he gathered other impressions of his new home, some of them related to its size.

“England is slightly bigger than Illinois,” he said. “But I remember thinking, ‘Now I’m in a country where there’s 50 Illinois.’”

Of those other 49 states, Mane-Davies has enjoyed his time in Colorado, as well as New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

“My thing is forests and mountains,” he said. “Illinois is not where I intend to stay. It’s a little too flat for me.”

His travels might also take him back to England, but maybe not.

“I’ve only been once since I came here,” said Mane-Davies. “That was seven years ago. I’ve just one grandparent there left. We were thinking of going back, but then with COVID and everything, we didn’t go. I just feel like England doesn’t have anything for me anymore.”

With the exception of that grandparent and a savory delicacy, steak and kidney pudding.

“I will say I miss British food a little bit,” he said. “Steak and kidney pudding is a suet dough, then steak and kidney and gravy. It’s amazing.”

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