By Dominic Garcia
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, Colo. (CBS4) – On Monday, 74 new U.S. citizens were sworn in at the Rocky Mountain National Park.
One of them was Dr. Fernando Diaz Del Valle who came to the United States in 2003 from Honduras.
“To hear your friends say we’re proud of you. We’re happy you’re one of us… you felt like being part of a complete family,” he told CBS4’s Dominic Garcia.
His road to citizenship wasn’t easy. When he came to the United States, he had $600 to his name. He had to use a bike because he couldn’t even afford tickets for the bus. But that wouldn’t stop him.
“When I tell that story, it’s more of humility and that you can do that. I was proud to ride that bike, I was proud to be given that opportunity. It was my responsibility to make it happen.”
After years of hard work, Diaz Del Valle is now a research associate at the University of Colorado, studying the long-term effects of second hand smoke. He says this country also gave him a whole lot more than his career.
“It gave me my wife. It gave me my family. It gave me my friends,” he told CBS4.
In all, 36 countries were represented at the ceremony, including Armenia, Congo and Nepal. Rocky Mountain National Park has been hosting naturalization ceremonies since 2006. Like so many others at this ceremony, Diaz Del Valle says if you’re willing to put in the work… anything’s possible.
“It didn’t hit me until I finished my oath of allegiance, and there’s this pause where my hands still up and I have this sense of crying and I realize ‘yes. this is finally happening.’”