“Welcome, my fellow Americans,” he said.

After remarks by New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, presentation of certificates, and retirement of the colors by the New Bedford High School Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, the new citizens filed into an adjacent room for an informal reception, complete with a cake decorated in red, white, and blue.

Tears and hugs were the order of the day for Maria Medeiros, 50, of Fall River, and the extended family who congratulated her after the ceremony.

Medeiros came from the Azorean island of Terceira at the age of 8. She said she always wanted to be a citizen, but the burden of the $725 fee held her back.

“This is the country that raised me,” she said.

She was worried about the civics test, which covers rights, freedoms, U.S. history, and current government. But she had help from her 26-year-old son, Nicholas Medeiros. Using his phone, he sent test questions to his mom and her girlfriend, and the three of them would make a game of trying to answer them. Clearly, she passed the test.

“I’m overwhelmed with everything, excited,” she said. “I’ve been wanting this for so long.”

A few minutes later, the reception room started to empty out.

The soft-spoken mom from Senegal knew where she was going. She has Fridays off from her job as a personal care attendant, so she was off to get her nails done and then to a rare treat: a movie.

“Today, I’m going to spoil myself,” she said. “This week is my week.”

This story by Jennette Barnes appeared first in the Standard Times on 07/21/2017 – HERE