HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — The United States has a long history of welcoming immigrants from all over the world. During the last decade, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalized more than 7.3 million citizens.

More News from WRBL

As of earlier this year, Griselda Agosti is one of 40% of immigrants to Alabama to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. Born and raised in Argentina, she first came to New York in 1961 after learning English at her Buenos Aires college.

However, it wasn’t until the age of 86 that she could make her American dream come true with the help of her fellow “Renegades”, the nickname for a group of senior citizen friends at Artisan Twickenham Square Apartments near downtown Huntsville.

“The Renegades are a melting pot of individuals with a couple of minorities, and several individuals from all over,” friend Sandra McGruder told News 19. “She told us how she always wanted to be a United States citizen. She’s always strove (sic) for that.”

“In the 40s and 50s I saw many many movies, American movies. I fell in love with this country, that’s why I came. I’m still in love with this country,” Agosti said.

Her marriage forced her to move back to her native Buenos Aires, Argentina. But with her adult son now a local firefighter, Agosti has called the Rocket City home for almost a decade.

“Huntsville is a very nice place. It’s not as expensive as California. People are very nice and I’m very happy,” Agosti said.

As her friend, McGruder couldn’t be more proud, “She would not take (the citizenship exam) in Spanish. She took it in English. She’s just an inspiration.”

“(I am) Very proud. Very happy,” Agosti said. “And I still cry. But not to cry because I was sad, but because I was very happy.”