LONGMONT, Colo. — For Carla Puky, Tuesday was a day she won't forget.
After years of waiting for her green card, the Spanish teacher was naturalized as a United States citizen Tuesday night at Twin Peaks Charter School in Longmont, where she teaches.
The charter school works with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which runs the naturalization programs and organizes a ceremony at the school every year. Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen.
These ceremonies are an opportunity for students at Twin Peaks to learn about all the work people have to put into the naturalization process. Eighth grade students were also very involved in the process.
The middle school council lead the Pledge of Allegiance and brought flowers, and the middle school choir sang the National Anthem.
Eighth grade students also had the opportunity to watch the ceremony and discuss it in class, although other middle schoolers were invited to the ceremonies.
"It pertains more to the eighth graders because they are working on that content," said Jennifer Whitmer, a social studies teacher at the school.
This year’s event was more personal to the school than it has been in years past.
“This is a special night to me regardless,” said the school’s director, Joe Mehsling. “The fact that we have one of our teachers becoming a citizen is the icing on the cake.”
“I grew up in Venezuela of parents that were international,” said Puky, better known to her Spanish students as "Senorita Puky."
A long-time educator this is her first year at Twin Peaks, her father was born in Hungary, which allowed her to come to the U.S. as a Hungarian immigrant. With all the necessary legalities complete, Puky became a U.S. citizen in the common hall of her school.
“When we found out she was getting her citizenship this year, we jumped through the hoops and said you’ve got to do it at the school you work at,” Mehsling said.
She relocated to Hungary, where her father was from, and received Hungarian citizenship through her father.
She lived in Hungary for 3 1/2 years until she was able to return to the U.S.
Once she was approved for a green card, she returned to Colorado, where she reunited with her parents.
Puky expressed her excitement for Tuesday night's naturalization ceremony where some of her students were on-hand to see her take her oath of citizenship. She realized it's an important opportunity for her students. It’s even more powerful to her.
“In my life, there have been times where I haven’t been considered enough of one thing or enough of another,” Puky said. “Here in the U.S., they let you be. All I’ve ever wanted to be Carla Puky, and in America, I can be that.”
Puky was joined by her parents, colleagues and friends during her naturalization ceremony.
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