My name is Maribel Hernandez and I’m originally from Mexico. My mom brought me to the United States when I was eight years old. I have two kids of my own now; my son is 12-years-old and my daughter is eight-years-old.

Photo Caption: Maribel Hernandez completes her naturalization application at the New York NAC’s Mega Citizenship Drive at the Bronx Zoo. (Photo Credit: Gail Ablow)

I want to become a citizen to have more job opportunities. I am doing this for my kids because I can see that they will have better opportunities if I keep moving forward with my education. I want to provide them with a better future. I want to give back to the country in any way that I can contribute; probably with organizations that help other people decide to become a citizen—because a lot of people, like myself, have been living here for how many years before they apply? It’s been 12 years since I turned 18 and I just finally decided to become a citizen! I have been offered better jobs and I want to pursue them but, since I’m just a legal resident and I’m not a citizen, I don’t qualify. I also want to become a citizen to have the right to vote.

This country has given me a lot of opportunities to continue my training. My dream is to become a radiology technician and I want to keep going to school until I get there; I want to keep moving forward.