For two AltaPointe staff members who were born worlds apart, being a United States citizen is a new experience. Flore Xaverie Ndongo Ogokouma, born in Cameroon, Africa, and Danaisys Olivera-Delgado, born in Colon, Cuba, now live in Alabama and work with AltaPointe. It’s a small world indeed.
Flore Ndongo, R.N.
Flore’s journey to the United States came at the insistence of her parents. In 2002, her father sent her to the University of Alabama (UA) English Learning Institute (ELI) in Tuscaloosa. Once she had completed her studies with ELI, she tested to become eligible to attend college in the United States. Flore attended Shelton Community College where she completed work to become a licensed practical nurse in 2005, and then applied for permanent resident status. She returned to Shelton in 2007 to become a registered nurse and received her bachelor of science in nursing in 2008. Flore continued her education and received a master’s degree as clinical nurse leader from UA in 2012.
After receiving permanent resident status she had to wait the government’s required five to ten years before she could be considered for citizenship. During this time, her travels within and outside the United States were restricted. In addition to the travel restrictions and the hefty process fees, there was the waiting.
“Obtaining your permanent resident status and citizenship takes a long time, but it is worth it,” Flore said, relating some of the process she went through to become a citizen. “You are very limited where and when you can travel – even within the United States. That is one of the reasons that I looked for career opportunities within Alabama.”
Flore moved to the Mobile area in 2013 and began working with AltaPointe in February 2015. Although she had lived in the U.S. for many years, Flore said being a citizen gives her a different feeling. “I feel free. I can travel. I truly feel like I belong.”
Danaisys, or Danny, as she is known at the Fairhope children’s day treatment program, came to Alabama by way of Spain. Because of the Castro regime, in 1983, Danny, her parents and siblings left Cuba and headed to the Canary Islands off the coast of Spain. She lived there with her family until 1994, when her mother insisted she go live with relatives in Florida for an opportunity to receive a better education. She attended school in West Palm Beach and earned an associate’s degree from Palm Beach Community College. She had a student visa to be in the United States during this time and had applied for permanent residency.
Danny met her husband while in college and, over the next ten years, career opportunities relocated them throughout Florida. A few years ago they came to the Daphne area, and in December 2015 she joined the AltaPointe staff. Although she has only been here a short time,
“Danny is like family,” Eddie Pratt, assistant coordinator of AltaPointe’s Fairhope child day treatment program, said. “She is light-hearted, positive and a good leader with the kids.”
Even though Danny was not yet a U.S. citizen for some time, she said felt like one. “I had spent so much time in the U.S., going to school, working, and raising a family, that the United States felt like home. I love everything about it, the ideology and the freedom.”
Danny decided to start the next step in becoming a citizen and, much like Flore, found the process to be lengthy and costly. “The end result is so worth it, but when you are going through it, you just need to have a lot of patience,” she said. “I had to go to New Orleans for fingerprinting and then up to Atlanta for an interview and testing. I was never quite sure when or how the next steps were going to happen.”
Danny became a United States citizen in March of this year at a special swearing in ceremony at Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile.
Go to the United States Citizen and Immigration Services website for more information on how to become a U.S. citizen.
Eligibility Requirements for Path to U.S. Citizenship
If you are a green card holder of at least five years, you must meet the following requirements in order to apply for naturalization:
- Be 18 or older at the time of filing
- Be a green card holder for at least five years immediately preceding the date of filing the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization
- Have lived within the state, or USCIS district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence, for at least three months prior to the date of filing the application
- Have continuous residence in the United States as a green card holder for at least five years immediately preceding the date of filing the application
- Be physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the five years immediately preceding the date of filing the application
- Reside continuously within the United States from the date of application for naturalization up to the time of naturalization
- Be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government (civics).
- Be a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well-disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law