JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Dozens of eager families packed a courtroom at the Federal Courthouse in Jacksonville for a chance to witness their loved one become a U.S. citizen.
A total of 48 immigrants from as far away as Cambodia, and as close as the Dominican Republic became U.S. citizens on Thursday.
Many saw their hard work pay off when they received their certificate of citizenship.
U.S. Sailor Ezaan Christensen, 22, was accompanied by more than eight of his fellow shipmates who rooted him on as he walked up to receive his certificate.
"It's a great honor," he said. "I've been working hard to get my citizenship for the last two years."
Christensen's parents brought him to the United States from Malaysia when he was 12 years old. For the past two-and-a-half years he served our country in the U.S. Navy.
"I'm glad that I met these people and that I'm here and, right now, we're going to go have a party," said Christensen.
Before being sworn in, each person stood up and introduced themselves. From Canada to Bosnia, more than 30 countries were represented at the ceremony.
The event was especially emotional for Karla Cintra whose journey began in 2000 when she left her family in Honduras in search of a better life.
"I'm by myself here," said Cintra. "This is a great country. I've been trying to get here for so long."
As her eyes welled up while clutching her certificate, she expressed how grateful she is to the country that gave her a chance.
"I'm going to get a better job and do the best for this country that did the most for me," said Cintra.
After the ceremony, the newly-naturalized citizens were given the chance to register to vote.
The Federal Courthouse conducts 11 naturalization ceremonies a year.