For many immigrants, the path leading towards citizenship can often be riddled with obstacles, which can be quite discouraging. Yet the determination that individuals like Ingrid demonstrate, paired with their ability to maintain a positive attitude during it all, is truly inspirational.
Originally from Colombia, Ingrid received a scholarship for medical school in Mexico, which originally prompted her to leave her country. Unfortunately, after administrative issues caused her to lose the scholarship—resulting in an education she could no longer afford—Ingrid decided to pursue nursing in the United States instead and arrived here in 2004.
Ingrid applied for permanent residency once she had completed her Bachelor’s degree—as she married and had a child—but starting on her citizenship took much longer because of an abusive relationship. She tells us, “My ex-husband would make threats whenever he was unhappy, telling me he would jeopardize the process if I ever tried. I had a job and a steady income at the time, so I didn’t want to risk it and never tried.” However, after a successful divorce, Ingrid was finally able to begin the process. She details her experience, “I attended one of the informational citizenship workshops and realized that many of his threats had been false. I found out I was eligible then too—that I could finally do it now—so I decided it was time.”
After starting the process with the New American Workforce in 2017, Ingrid officially became a citizen of the United States in 2019. With this accomplishment came a variety of new possibilities. Apart from voting, she found that more job opportunities opened up for her—like becoming a Veteran’s nurse. As a single mother supporting her child, the benefits and pay of this kind of position were compelling. However, Ingrid’s ambitions did not stop there.
Already having experienced so many hurdles in her life, Ingrid continues to persevere and be motivated to grow—even now during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought considerable changes for her. A nurse in the Oncology department at the University of Miami Hospital, she is currently working from home in a position she does not have much experience in. She explains, “I’m in research now, which isn’t my favorite, but I’m extremely grateful to have been able to maintain my job during this time. Not many are this lucky.” For someone who has never taken formal English lessons, switching to a job that requires a considerable amount of writing has definitely been a challenge for Ingrid. However, she is taking the necessary steps to help her performance in this new role and is currently enrolled in online English classes to improve her grammar and structure.
On top of all of that, Ingrid is pursuing additional education as well—tailored more specifically to her interests. In March 2020, she received her certification for Natural Medicine, and she is currently working towards becoming a certified Aromatherapist. “I would love to become a naturopathic doctor or practitioner someday—that’s my next goal.”
Since arriving in the United States, Ingrid has overcome a number of challenges that stood in her way, all while continuing to find positives that she could look forward to. “It’s extremely important to keep your mind focused, especially now,” she says, in regards to the pandemic “and to remember that no matter how bad the situation may get—there is always hope.”