Naturalization

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JEFFERSON CITY - More than 100 immigrants gathered to become American citizens at the naturalization ceremony Wednesday afternoon. 

"It's been a long journey," Mary Ann Hopkins said, a woman from the Philippines who received her citizenship. 

Hopkins' immigration attorney, Robert Torp, attended the ceremony and helped her become a citizen. 

"Now she's a U.S. citizen and I'm just thrilled," Torp said. 

Many people at the ceremony said it took between eight and 11 years to receive citizenship. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the process to become a citizen includes filing applications, taking naturalization tests and going through an interview process. 

Melanie Fraga teaches English Speakers of Other Languages in Jefferson City, and ran into one of her former students the day of the ceremony.

"To have former students pop out of the audience that are about to become citizens today was just--I just got chills," Fraga said. "I just almost started to cry."

Fraga's former student, Veronica Narvaez, moved here from Nicaragua in 2008 and immediately started taking English classes. Narvaez said she wants to be a part of the decisions made in the United States.

"I want to be taken seriously, and I want to keep moving forward and help others," Narvaez said. 

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