BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — On this birthday for the USA, one woman has a special reason to celebrate.
Life for Andrea Maar is looking up.
From the little girl with her dad in Budapest, Hungary to Boynton Beach, where on her tip toes at home, Maar can see the ocean and a whole lot more.
"To me, it means love, freedom, happiness," she said.
It's the dream she followed; the journey Maar started after her dad lost his job in Budapest.
"I knew it was my time to support them," she said.
Maar followed her mom's footsteps in search of work. Before she was born, her mom had come to the USA and became a citizen herself before returning home years later.
"My dad gave me $250 and that's all I had to my name," she said. "I paid back every penny and more and I didn't speak any English."
Maar arrived in New York in 2000 on a tourist visa alone and homesick. She had one contact who helped her find work.
"She found me this job with an Orthodox Jewish family in upstate New York," she said. "That is where I lived and worked for the family as a housekeeper."
Life eventually brought Maar to South Florida. She became an esthetician, at first, working for someone else.
"People think the American Dream is you come here, and you are picking money from the trees," Maar said. "But it's not like that. It's through hardships and challenges."
Maar persevered and became a U.S. citizen on April 30, 2015.
Two years ago, Maar struck out on her own.
"Now, I am proud to say that I own my own business and am thriving," she said.
The American Dream, some argue, is just a tired cliche, but Maar disagrees.
"I've seen movies about America growing up and I was like, wow, everybody's dream, and it can become a reality," she said. "So, I always wanted to come here and see how I could be an American."