FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Northern Arizona men's basketball freshman Kris Yanku moved to the United States when he was six years old from Istanbul, Turkey to Los Angeles, California and lived in Los Angeles before attending Northern Arizona.
"My parents, family and coaches have been really supportive of me," said Yanku. "Dr. Campos and coach Murphy allowed me to leave early when we were in Sacramento to go to my court ceremony so I cannot thank them enough for allowing me the opportunity."
Yanku's final step to earning his American citizenship was to attend his ceremony at the court house in Phoenix on Feb. 7. Yanku was surrounded by people older than him also being granted citizenship into the United States and was humbled by the experience.
"Being at the ceremony really showed me what it really meant to be a citizen in this country," said Yanku. "A lot of the people at the ceremony were much older than me and had lived in a different country for a long time and the judge had us share our stories so that it made a bigger deal than what I thought."
Yanku had to make frequent trips from Flagstaff to Phoenix for interviews in order to obtain his American citizenship. Assistant coach Vic Sfera and director of basketball operations, Landon Hughey, assisted Yanku throughout the process, driving him down to the Valley.
"When we got approval from our compliance office, we helped him in every way we could to help him get his citizenship," said Sfera. "It is a big deal for him and his family because he has lived here since he was six years old. His parents have provided him an opportunity to have a better life here in America and I am happy I can be a small piece in this process."