A Summer She'll Never Forget

posted on Thursday, August 31, 2017

Kelly Paredes-Vega

Kelly (in stripes)

As the end of summer closes in, a Halcyon House team member is sure to look back with fond memories on what this season has meant to her.

Enriqueta “Kelly” Paredes-Vega, Food-Service Aide at Halcyon House in Washington, became an American citizen at a ceremony at Principal Park in Des Moines, marking the culmination of a great deal of work and fulfilling a long-held dream.

"I cried when I took the United States of America Oath of Allegiance," Kelly said. "I love this country.”

Kelly was born and raised in Guanajuato, Mexico, and moved with her parents and sisters in 1997 to Chicago to be near her mother's family. She became a permanent resident at that time, attending Richard J. Daley College and receiving her GED certification.

She married in 2001 and had two children, Karen and Leonardo, now teenagers. She continued with her schooling in Iowa City, receiving her cosmetology license from the La James Cosmetology College and working in a beauty salon in Washington before transitioning to Halcyon House last December.

About a year ago, Kelly completed and sent her application for citizenship to the Department of Naturalization in Des Moines.  In addition to the application fee of nearly $700, Kelly paid another $150 to a professional for assistance with naturalization. 

Once her application was reviewed and approved, Kelly began a long process that included a thorough background check, language testing, and comprehensive studies of U.S. history. 

After months of studying and memorizing, Kelly passed her test. And earlier this summer, she and 29 other soon-to-be United States citizens lined up on the field at the Principal Park in Des Moines. The group swore to support the Constitution, obey the laws of the United States, renounce any foreign allegiance and/or foreign title, and bear arms for the Armed Forces of the United States or perform services for the U.S. government when required. 

The new citizens closed their ceremony with the singing of our National Anthem.

Kelly couldn't be prouder.

"This country has given me opportunities I would never have had before," she said. "I am so thankful.”

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