Guadalupe Anguiano, a custodian at White Oak Elementary School in Westlake Village, has labored for the past five years in relative obscurity. But for an hour or so this week, she was a star.
The Mexican immigrant was guest of honor at a special ceremony to congratulate her on becoming a U.S. citizen.
"I just can't find the right words to thank you," said Anguiano, who was naturalized last week. "You make me feel so special."
Anguiano, who moved to the United States in 1970, has two brothers and a sister in this country. During the five years she has worked at White Oak Elementary, she said, she has grown close to the students and staff.
During this week's ceremony, attended by the whole school, Anguiano was given a special proclamation from the city of Westlake Village and a certificate of congressional recognition from the office of Rep. Anthony Beilenson (D-Woodland Hills).
After the ceremony, students and staff members lined up to offer Anguiano praise and give her hugs.
"These people are like my family," said Anguiano, fighting back tears.
White Oak Principal Dorothy Penney said the school wanted to do something special for the popular Anguiano.
The ceremony was also meant to be a learning experience for students. "I think we need to remind our kids that citizenship is a privilege," Penney said.
Anguiano said she is thankful to be a citizen at last.
"I have more rights. I'm able to vote," she said. "That's a big thing."