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PHOENIX -- Studying, fingerprinting, sitting through interview after interview.

Nuria Sisterna, born in Argentina but here in the Valley on a visa since childhood, wanted to become an American citizen.

"Five years being in the U.S. living here with just a green card and then applying (for citzenship). Going through fingerprinting, interviews and exams," she said of the process of American naturalization.

Sisterna, 23, arrived here with her parents when she was 11. She attended Marcos de Niza High in Tempe before enrolling at the University of Arizona to become a doctor.

Her father returned to Argentina during her senior year at Marcos. He had been laid off and unable to find work for two months. Her mother stayed behind until Sisterna received her diploma, then she returned to Argentina.

For all of the positives in her life, there's political unrest in Argentina. She said the president is trying to pass a law that would make current Argentinian passports unusable, which would keep her parents from coming to visit her. And because of the violence Sisterna won't risk traveling there.

Medical studies combined with everything associated with becoming a citizen was double the stress load of most people at the same point in life.

"I finally belong here," Sisterna said. "After so long of not being able to vote and not being able to apply for scholarships because I'm not a citizen. It finally feels like I'm here, do what I want and live my life."

And last week, during a ceremony in Phoenix, she was sworn in as an American citizen with 50 others from 21 nations.

"It's going to be double the happiness and double the freedom. It has been a long, long road but it was worth it," She said.

Jim Cross, Reporter

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