It’s difficult to imagine Maria Doling more excited.
The 31-year-old born in Papua New Guinea just became a new naturalized citizen of the United States and she intends to use of her rights immediately; she plans to vote right away.
“The reason why I am applying is – I want to vote. I see everything going on around me and I’m like wow, if I am here and I’m eligible to vote, why not I apply and get my citizenship, my one vote can make a difference,” she said.
Doling was sworn-in Monday afternoon in Centennial, along with 38 others from countries like Switzerland, Australia, India, Moldova, Mexico and others.
“I’m finally going to get my citizenship and oh boy, I’m so thankful,” Doling said. “I’m so appreciative for this wonderful country. Every day sometimes I just sit on my couch, [and think] ‘Wow I can’t believe I’m in America. The most powerful country in the world. Opportunities is [sic] open to anybody who is willing to put an effort, it’s just there.”
Doling came to the U.S. nine years ago on a track scholarship. She met her husband here and is currently working on a nursing degree.
“I don’t want to piss people off, I’m like, the government provide everything for you,” Doling said. “You just go one-week span where I come from, you’ll be so appreciative of what you have here. As an immigrant I always tell people who complain about little things, sometimes we live without electricity, basic necessities like water, you have to walk miles to get water. Even go to school, my dad walked two to three days just to attend a class, during his time. When I think about that I’m like wow, American citizens are spoiled.”
9NEWS didn’t ask her who she will vote for, but Doling did talk about doing research on the candidates and issues ahead of casting her first vote.
“It’s going to be a surreal moment just to put my mark on the paper and when you put your mark on the paper, it’s the future of your kids,” Doling said. “That little mark can determine the future of my kids, my grand-kids, the decisions they’re going through [it] will affect the entire [country].”
After Doling’s swearing in, she told 9NEWS she barely could hold back tears during the ceremony. It was emotional, she said.
She said she’s grateful to go vote on Tuesday. In her home country, she said armed guards stand at polling places and can influence or hurt people casting the “wrong vote.”
She’s excited to vote in the United States, “America is a free speech country,” she said.