St. Thomas Aquinas Spanish teacher, Howard Puertas, recently completed the long and arduous process of becoming a United States citizen. There is something deeply touching in reading a personal account of the naturalization process. It never fails to serve as a beautiful reminder of all the freedoms and rights that accompany American citizenship. And thus, in his own words, our beloved Sr. Puertas shares a very special journey.
My Journey to Citizenship
By Howard Puertas
My name is Howard Puertas. I was born and raised in Piura, Peru. My parents immigrated to the United States about 22 years ago, as many people do looking for a better future for their family. I was almost 14 years old at that time. I have a younger brother, Steve, who was 12. When my parents immigrated to the US, we were taken care of by our older siblings Wilford, Jessica, and Kenny and my maternal grandmother. One by one all of my siblings immigrated to the United States. Now all of us in my immediate family live in the United States.
I immigrated to the US in 2001 when I was 21 years old, without knowing any English. I lived with my parents, and I went to school fulltime to learn English. Then I met and married my wife, Anna Bowers. My wife, Anna and I now have four children. I also completed my Bachelors and Masters degrees. I was eligible to hold a green card, which I had until I became a citizen September 22nd, 2017.
Becoming a citizen was a 7 month process for me. I completed an application for citizenship and then I studied for the citizenship test. The night before the test, I could not sleep. I was very nervous; I felt like a student taking his final exam. Thankfully I passed. Then, all there was to do was wait for the day of the ceremony. The ceremony was beautiful. People from 37 different countries became citizens the same day as me. I especially remember when the judge said, “Welcome, fellow citizens.” It had a profound impact on me. My wife and four children watched me be sworn in as a new citizen. Afterwards, my family and I took pictures with some of the officials including the governor, Chris Sununu.
I became a citizen for a number of reasons. New Hampshire is the place I want to live and raise my four children. We have good opportunities here including education and employment. We have good government. It is safe here in New Hampshire.
I am very proud to be a citizen of this country. I love this country. I am grateful for what this country has given me—education, family, and a job that I love.
And we, Sr. Puertas, are extremely grateful… for you.