SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (KFVS) - It's something most of us take for granted, but becoming a U.S. citizen is a dream for many who move here from other parts of the world.
Maria Bell has been dreaming of this day for over 20 years.
"I am very happy very, very proud to be an American," says Bell.
She along with 68 others of the nation's newest citizens- one by one waited for their names to be called to accept a piece of paper that would declare her an American citizen.
"It was very emotional and very nice," she says.
Bell, who was born in Guatemala, has been a legal resident since 1992 when she moved to America on a scholarship and pursuit an education.
And since then has fallen in love- married, earned a college degree, and has two children.
But she wanted more.
"I was always very happy being just a legal resident, but lately I have been very interested in politics, I want to participate in the political process, and of course I wanted to vote, which is the main reason."
And her family and friends supporting her the whole way.
"It was cool just like seeing her go up there," says her daughter, Christina Bell.
"It's definitely very cool, it's great to know that now she is an American citizen," says her son Brain Bell.
Bell works at Southern Illinois University,as a foreign language instructor.
Something she says might not of been a possibility had she not moved to America.
"Just very naturally came in to Spanish, and teaching and I love it," she says.
And who calls America home.
"I have my flag now!"
The new citizens were welcomed by U.S. District Judge Phil Gilbert.