HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - An Election Day naturalization ceremony Tuesday morning was the final step to citizenship for 23 Mississippi men and women.
They've spent years working toward the dream they can now call reality.
As the William Carey University Men's Quartet sang "American the Beautiful," the moment Chile native Rodrigo Flores has been waiting for finally arrived.
"This is a great nation to be a part of. It's pretty much an honor," said Flores.
In front of friends and family Flores and 22 others took their Oath of Allegiance, and received their certificates.
Flores has been in the U.S. for 13 years.
He resides in Brandon, Mississippi, and earns a living as a police canine trainer.
Now that his dream of being a U.S. citizens is fulfilled he can only hope this country will give his son the same great opportunities.
"That is what he deserves. It's a great country. He can be whomever he wants to be," said Flores.
The sentiment is shared by 18-year-old new mom Andrea Bencomo, native of Venezuela, for herself and her son.
"I wanted to become a citizen, because U.S. citizens have so many opportunities, and I just wanted to be part of this country and feel more at home," said Bencomo.
Both Bencomo and Flores recall the process to citizenship being as a long journey.
"Years of waiting, because you have to be 18 to apply, and, of course, after you apply you have to wait so long to get it approved. We studied 100 questions and out of 100 questions we only got asked ten, so it was a lot," said Bencomo.
"A lot of paper work. A lot of appointments, visits to immigration officers. It took me about six or seven years," said Flores.
The waiting game isn't over.
They have to wait four more years to exercise their right to vote for president.
Until then, Bencomo has something that will keep her busy for the next four years.
"I'm attending Ole Miss. I'm majoring in nursing. I plan to become an RN, and hopefully maybe a nurse practitioner," she said.