Newly minted U.S. citizen surprised with patriotic celebration 

Ana Khan loves her family, loves her community and most of all, loves her country. Khan became an American citizen during a special ceremony held in Casper on Jan. 9, 2017. Being an American citizen isn’t something she takes lightly. It is something she worked diligently toward for more than 10 years, abiding by every rule, every regulation and passing every test and requirement along the way.

On Monday, she was honored by her fellow employees at North Big Horn Hospital with a special surprise party to honor her citizenship. Her proud family was also there to support her.

Khan said becoming a citizen is much more difficult than most people realize. Not only must the individual be a permanent resident or “green card” holder for at least five years, but he or she must also pass a number of rigorous tests to prove a basic ability to read, write and speak the English language and to prove a basic understanding of U.S. government and civics. The applicant must also prove that he or she is of sound moral character and has an attachment to the principals and ideals of the U.S. Constitution.

On Monday, employees at North Big Horn Hospital presented flowers and a very large card signed by many well-wishers to lab technician Ana Khan, who became a U.S. citizen this month.
Patti Carpenter photo

Khan is originally from the Philippines. She met her husband Mazher when she took a job in Saudi Arabia. Mazher, who is originally from India, was assigned to train her for her new job. During a four-month process of training, he fell in love with her and asked her to marry him. As is the custom in her country, Ana sought her parents’ permission back home in the Philippines and they gave their blessing for the couple to marry.

The couple had two girls (Amirah and Rabiah) when they made the decision to move to the U.S. According to Mazher, seeking a better life for their two girls was a big motivator for the couple.

Mazher, who works in the lab at a local factory, said the couple felt ready for a change after they started a family. Mazher wanted to move back to his homeland of India, and Ana preferred the Philippines. After much soul-searching, the couple made the decision to start a completely new life either in Canada or the U.S.

Since Ana was the first to land a job as a medical technician in the lab at North Big Horn Hospital, they set their sights, as many immigrants before them, on a new and better life in America.

Ana moved to Wyoming first. It took nine long months before her family could join her. She said what she expected to take only a few months turned out to be much more complicated than expected.

“Being away from my husband and my children was the most difficult part of the process,” said Ana. “I was so happy when we were finally together again.”

Once here, the couple had two more children (Adnan and Sofia) and set their sights on becoming permanent residents and obtaining U.S. citizenship.

“We really appreciate the way of life we have here, especially the freedom,” said Ana.

“We are very proud to be in America,” added Mazher. “This is a very beautiful country. People are respected here and my children are doing very well here in school. I love the freedom and I love America because it’s a good country.”

Ana was serenaded by the Lovell High School Swing Choir with a medley of patriotic songs to celebrate her new citizenship. A tearful Ana sang along with every song, obviously well aware of the lyrics and moved by the meaning of every word.

“It was really a meaningful event for me when I took my oath in Casper and this surprise is very meaningful, too,” said Ana. “I’m really happy to be in this town (Lovell). People here are very generous. Everyone knows each other and looks out for each other. It feels like a very safe place.”

By Patti Carpenter