GREELEY, Colo. — Marelise Flessner came to the United States from South Africa in 2016. She worked as an au pair in Breckenridge, Colorado for a year and then planned to move to Europe. "But then I met my husband," she said.
Fast forward to July 2021, and Flessner was sworn in as a U.S. citizen in Greeley, Colorado. "I’m super excited that it’s so close to Fourth of July because we just have so much more to celebrate this weekend."
Flessner joined 19 others during a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) naturalization ceremony at Centennial Village Museum. The ceremony was part of the agency's annual Independence Day celebration. The citizens sworn in immigrated from ten different countries including: Burma, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala, Iran, Mexico, Peru, Poland, and South Africa.
Flessner said her citizenship comes after years of paper work and patience.
"I waited about six months for my worker's permit, and then I think a year after that I got my green card," she said. "Then I had to be here three years before I could apply for citizenship. But in the meantime, I had to apply to remove my conditions off of my green card, [and] never heard back, so I applied for citizenship and that all happened this year."
She's mostly excited about being able to travel more with her husband and voting in future elections. "It’ll just feel good to vote for stuff that I believe in," she said.
During the ceremony, Greeley-Evans School District 6 Board Director Rhonda Solis gave a speech and congratulated the new citizens. "I just want to say hold on to your language, hold on to your customs and share those with us," Solis said.
"It just made me super excited to be able to share all those things here with everyone in America with everyone I love in a place to be safe," Flessner said. "We have different things in South Africa, different food, languages, and everything that I’m bringing here that I can teach my kids one day."
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