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  • BOULDER, CO -University of Colorado Boulder sophomore Daniala Mohammadi, originally from Afghanistan, shows her emotions after receiving her American citizenship during a Naturalization Ceremony on Thursday at the Friends School in Boulder.

  • BOULDER, CO – Rallamaija Neilikka Hiller, of Finland, left, Jorge Perez-Gallego, of Spain and Lubica Hodul, of Slovakia, say their Oath of Allegiance during a Naturalization Ceremony on Thursday at the Friends School in Boulder.

  • BOULDER, CO – Anaya Pektar, 7, left, and her sister Arrin, 6, share a laugh while watching their mother and father Meghana and Sachin Pektur, of Erie, recieve their citizenships during a Naturalization Ceremony on Thursday at the Friends School in Boulder. (Photo by Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer)

  • BOULDER, CO – Newly granted American citizens say the Pledge of Allegiance during a Naturalization Ceremony on Thursday at the Friends School in Boulder.

  • BOULDER, CO – Anaya , 7, congratulates her father Sachin Pektar, of Erie, on his citizenship during a Naturalization Ceremony on Thursday at the Friends School in Boulder.

  • BOULDER, CO – Decorations sit on a stage during a Naturalization Ceremony on Thursday at the Friends School in Boulder.

  • BOULDER, CO – Elena Shepherd, of Russia, waves an American flag during a Naturalization Ceremony on Thursday at the Friends School in Boulder.

  • BOULDER, CO – A woman recieves her citizenship during a Naturalization Ceremony on Thursday at the Friends School in Boulder.

  • BOULDER, CO – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Field Office Director Andrew Lambrecht speaks immigrants during a Naturalization Ceremony on Thursday at the Friends School in Boulder.

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Erie resident Sachin Petkar received more than just United States citizenship on Thursday.

His wife, Meghana, also became a naturalized citizen, as did 28 other Coloradans, at a ceremony in Boulder at the Friends School on Kalmia Avenue.

But it was Meghana who said she “gave up two identities in one day.”

While she gained the right to vote in this country through her newfound citizenship, earned after passing the notoriously difficult citizenship test, Meghana also gave up her maiden name Thursday before the ceremony, making her surname the same as her husband’s.

“This was my present to him,” Meghana Petkar said, adding she was the last one among her siblings since she arrived in the country 20 years ago to naturalize as a United States citizen.

Both Petkars said they were most excited to participate in the elections coming up this year.

“I’m also excited to embrace the two new identities I have gotten today,” Meghana Petkar said.

Becoming citizens as their children who were born in the United States are, and having everyone in their family share the same last name brightened their days.

“It’s about time,” Sachin Petkar said of becoming a citizen. He said he has lived in the United States for 28 years since attending Purdue University as a teenager.

The 30 newly minted United States citizens honored in Boulder hail from 17 different countries, and live in Avon, Boulder, Brighton, Broomfield, Brush, Denver, Erie, Fort Lupton, Golden, Lafayette, Louisville, Northglenn, Superior and Thornton.

More than 50 friends and family of the honorees attended the ceremony, smiling and applauding after the group of new citizens took the “Oath of Allegiance,” committing to serve the country if called upon by the law.

Daniala Mohammadi, a 20-year-old University of Colorado Boulder student studying aerospace engineering who came to the United States with her family of seven from Afghanistan when she was 14, also became a citizen. Mohammadi felt the achievement removed any remaining barriers to realizing her academic goals, which she said would have been more difficult as a woman in her native country.

“I can go, do, discover and grow more and more,” Mohammadi said. “I don’t have fear of being limited.”

She was the first among her family to become a naturalized citizen.

Also in attendance were dozens of Friends School middle school students, a group of whom led the crowd gathered in singing the national anthem.

Diane Bramble, a humanities teacher at the school, said when school leaders were informed they would host the citizenship ceremony, the students became interested in learning about each of the nations from which the new citizens hailed, and also tested their knowledge with a 10-question portion of a citizenship test and discovered they had to look some correct answers up.

“You inspired us, and made us so curious, and motivated to us learn more about the world,” Bramble said. “And anytime we want to learn more about the world and the people who are in the world, it makes the world a better place.”

BOULDER, CO – Anaya Petkar, 7, left, and her sister Arrin, 6, share a laugh while watching their mother and father Meghana and Sachin Petkar, of Erie, receive their citizenships during a Naturalization Ceremony on Thursday at the Friends School in Boulder. (Photo by Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer)

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