Tenielle was born in Kingston, Jamaica. At 13 years of age, she left behind her brothers, other family members, and everything she knew in life and headed to New York to join her mother, who lived in Queens. “Jamaica was fun, but it had financial challenges and lack of opportunity,” she said. She was determined to find those opportunities in America. Living in Queens as a teenager was a great start, but Tenielle was looking for more.
After graduating from high school, she began the process of working toward legal residency. As is common, there were issues with her paperwork. This only made her more determined to make her life better. She went to college and got married but still felt incomplete. She wanted to be a part of the culture here in the United States, to be grounded in all the U.S. had to offer—she wanted to be a U.S. citizen. Tenielle’s marriage did not last but left her with three beautiful children that mean the world to her. She wanted to be an example to them, make them proud of her, and show them that through hard work, you can accomplish anything,
When her second marriage ended, Tenielle found Colorado Springs on the computer. She fell in love with the mountains and decided to settle here. She shared, “So here I am, and I love it!” Now a single mom, she needed to provide for her family. After 24 years as a legal resident, Tenielle was finally ready to begin the steps to becoming a citizen. She had previously been referred to Catholic Charities Family Immigration Services for her residency renewals, but this time was different. She wanted to be a part of the American story. “My journey with Catholic Charities Family Immigration Services was very involved, honest, and knowledgeable. They never made me feel uncomfortable or judged. They were very accommodating—especially during COVID—with all offices being closed and laws changing.”
The counselor helped her with interview preparation, gave her a clear picture of what to expect, and ensured she was prepared for the citizenship process. They encouraged and supported her efforts. Tenielle said “They help no matter what. They take the stress out of it.” They answered her questions, filed the paperwork, and cheered her on. She was scared before the interview, but they made her feel comfortable with the process. After all those years of yearning and dealing with life’s challenges, she was on her way to becoming a part of the American Dream!
She did it! She became a U.S. Citizen! When asked how it felt, Tenielle said, “It’s like a sense of belonging to America, its culture, and the opportunities it holds. I have accomplished this despite the odds — I really belong. It’s really cool; it feels so good to finally have my U.S. Citizenship!” Regarding the help she received from Catholic Charities, she said, “They were reliable, amazing, and truly awesome! They made the entire process one without difficulties. They walked me through the application, sent me videos, they were honest about everything. I trust them; they were glad to share any information with me. I was so sad they could not be at the ceremony because they played such a huge role in this journey. I will never forget Catholic Charities Family Immigration Services’ part in this process.”
At Catholic Charities, we respect everyone who comes to us for help. Many are working toward a fresh start in life. So while their stories are true, client names and images may have changed to protect their privacy.