• 20210422-140443-LIT20042220my20name20is

Finding their footing

My parents met in what was called Rhodesia, and is now called Zimbabwe, in southern Africa. My father was in the Portuguese Air Force. They were displaced following decades of struggles over control of the country.

I was born in Portugal, but my parents didn’t find their footing there. We came to the United States when I was one year old and settled in Rochester, New York.

My parents overstayed their visas, and after that we were in the country illegally. They didn’t have money for a lawyer to help them with their case.

Seeing the world

My mom was paranoid that people would discover our undocumented status, so she home-schooled me my entire childhood. She didn’t want me talking to a lot of people, and was wary of my friends. I got a good education, but I didn’t get a high school diploma.

When I turned 18, I had the option to stay, under the DREAM Act. Much of my family ended up moving away. My father passed away, and my mother lives in England now. Instead of staying, I decided to go see the world and experience other cultures. I lived in France, Singapore and the UK. I had a lot of experiences that made me more accommodating and compassionate toward people with different viewpoints.

I took classes in England, and met my future husband in France. I was ready to find a place to settle down and end my drifting. He was from Colorado, and we came to the U.S. and got married. Marrying him enabled me to get my green card, and paved the way for my citizenship.

‘Congratulations, you’re a citizen’

Once we got here, I got my GED at Arapahoe Community College. Now I’m majoring in business administration with a concentration in accounting.

I just became an American citizen this month. I went in to take the citizenship test, and at the end the administrator walked in and told me to raise my right hand and take the oath. He handed me my papers and said, “Congratulations, you’re a citizen.”

I’ve managed to overcome my past and gain legal citizenship. I’m enjoying my classes, and my husband and I are planning to start a family. My life is going in a good direction.

I’ve lived a lot of places, but to me America is the best country in the world. I really appreciate how wonderful Colorado is.

I feel like I’m living the American dream.

If you have suggestions for My Name Is, please contact David Gilbert at dgilbert@coloradocommunitymedia.com.