This spring, Benco Dental Dispatch Specialist Dorcus Achieng, 33, fulfills a childhood dream that began in Uganda: U.S. citizenship. Her journey demonstrates resilience and serves as an inspiration to all those hoping to create a better life for themselves and their families.
What prompted Dorcus Achieng’s move to the United States from East Africa?
As a young child in Kamonkoli, a city of 25,000 in the eastern region of Uganda, Achieng dreamed about life in the United States.
“I wanted to come and have a better life than I did growing up, and maybe slowly change the lives of those I left behind in Uganda.”Dorcus Achieng, on her dream of U.S. citizenship
She recalls an adventure at age five, when missionaries came to her school to distribute books and clothing, that demonstrates her determination.
Once it got dark outside, she decided to hide under their van. Unbeknownst to the missionaries, she held on for almost an hour. Once they found her, she was promptly returned home. She credits her tree climbing talent – and the car’s slow rate of travel — as the reason she was able to get so far.
“Little did I know I would one day come to America in real life without hiding,” said Achieng.
For years, she envisioned a life in the United States. Meeting her now-husband Jeremy Soroka online provided the driving force behind her decision to officially make the move to the United States.
What was the path to U.S. citizenship like for Benco Dental associate Dorcus Achieng?
Achieng’s path to becoming a U.S. citizen required persistence and patience.
- After her marriage to Soroka, she applied for a spousal visa. The paperwork exchange to receive an interview date took about a year.
- Next, Achieng took her first plane ride to Kenya, which neighbors Uganda to the east. At first, her visa application was denied on the basis that her husband had been living in Uganda too long. Fortunately, her second attempt succeeded.
- In 2015, she received a conditional green card, and arrived in the U.S. on Thanksgiving day at age 28.
“It was my first Thanksgiving to share with my husband’s family.”
- In 2018, Achieng applied for permanent residency in the U.S. and upon being approved, she had one step ( and five years as a U.S. resident) remaining in her process: application for citizenship.
- What followed: painstaking preparation for her citizenship exam. Achieng said she was fascinated by the various differences in the history and fundamentals of the U.S and Ugandan governments. Particularly, the limitation on presidential terms in the U.S interested her, because the Ugandan president had been in office since Achieng was born. H.E. Yoweri K. Museveni took office in 1986 and remains the Ugandan president today in 2022.
- And finally … success. On May 6, Achieng passed the exam, gaining U.S. citizenship, a monumental accomplishment. She and her family marked the occasion – a new chapter — with a special dinner together.
Dorcus Achieng reflects on her career at Benco Dental and new U.S. citizenship
Personally and professionally, Achieng experiences success each day. In 2021, the Greeley, Pennsylvania resident began working as a Dispatch Specialist with Benco Dental, the nation’s largest independent dental distributor. She highlights the incredible relationships she has developed with co-workers and supervisors.
“I love my job and I love my supervisors, they are irreplaceable.”Dorcus Achieng, on her career as Benco Dispatch Specialist
Since declaring permanent residency in the U.S., she and her husband have started a family that includes two children: Xenia, 6, and Shushanik, 2, three cats and one bunny. Achieng says they serve as an inspiration for her new goals:
“Continue to improve in my career, raise my kids well, watch them grow up and maybe one day visit home in Uganda.”
Remembering her roots is part of every day for Dorcus Achieng
The new citizen loves her life in the U.S, but remains proud of her roots in Uganda. Achieng shares what she misses most:
“My friends, the food, my family and all the kids I used to care for there.”
One day Achieng hopes to bring her own children to Uganda to show them where she spent her early years. In the meantime, she’s enjoying every minute in her new nation.
“I like taking the kids to the park, hiking in the woods, cooking,” said Achieng, and lighter moments, like “watching brainless shows.”
Achieng’s unique journey began in Uganda and her dreams delivered her to the U.S. Along the path: a decade of determination in her quest for U.S. citizenship.