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Local woman gains citizenship status after four-year journey

At the end of a four-year journey, Felina Holmes is now proud to call herself an American citizen. The Hartselle woman and Hartselle Junior High School employee said she embarked on her citizenship journey in 2016 to be part of her community and to provide her children with a better future.  

“I want to be a lawful person in America, especially for my kids to have better opportunities. Everything is a process,” Holmes said.  

After filing for citizenship, Holmes waited three years to take her test and faced two delays along the way, including one from COVID-19. Despite being frustrated, Holmes said she continued to study and be optimistic, checking back daily to see if the test had been rescheduled.  

“It was hard, and I was very frustrated,” she said. I felt great when it was scheduled; finally the last step is over.” 

The test to earn American citizenship has three segments: an oral test, a written test and a reading test. Holmes said she had 100 questions to study, and she was asked 10 of them the day of the test, with six correct answers required to pass.  

Out of all the tests, she said the oral test was the one that made her the most nervous. 

“Even though I know I have studied, I was a little bit nervous. It was hard because we were wearing masks, but through the grace of God, I answered them all right,” Holmes said.  

That same day, Holmes learned she had passed and would become a legal citizen of the United States. She said she felt grateful and excited to reach the end of such a long journey.  

“I was very happy and grateful. I am a legal resident here,” she said. I am proud to be called an American citizen after the long process.” 

Holmes said the journey is something that she embarked on through the love and support of her church and work family. Upon passing her tests, Holmes’ coworkers threw her a party to celebrate.  

Tasha McKee is one of Holmes’ coworkers, and she said Holmes has worked continuously toward her goal, never giving up. 

“She is the sweetest, most hardworking, Godfearing woman,” McKee said. She worked two jobs to make sure that she could get her visas renewed, and she studied for the tests. She found out that day, and she was so excited. She sent all of us text messages saying how excited she was, and it was a testament to her hard work and how much that she wants to be part of America.” 

Having originally moved from the Philippines to America, Holmes said she has found a strong support system in her community. She said she is grateful to her HCS coworkers who celebrated the journey with her. 

“I feel very loved and welcomed by everyone. There is also joy in their hearts. They support me and anything I need. They are loving coworkers that I can depend on,” she said. I didn’t have a family here, but I have a wonderful church family and very supportive coworkers. HCS gives us a better opportunity, especially for my kids, both academically and for sports.” 

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