Genelle Guzman-McMillan left her native Trinidad and Tobago two years before the World Trade Center attacks in search of the American dream.
But on September 11 2001, it would turn into a nightmare, but one, she says, she would not change.
Ms Guzman-McMillan was the last person pulled alive from the wreckage of the Twin Towers, 27 hours after the building collapsed on top of her.
On that fateful Tuesday, she was working as an assistant secretary at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey whose offices were on the 64th floor of Tower 1 - or the North Tower - of the World Trade Center.
About an hour after hijackers flew a plane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center 30 floors above her office, Ms Guzman-McMillan and her colleagues decided to escape down the stairs.
"I remember like it was yesterday, I thought it was a dream" - Ms Guzman-McMillan on being trapped under the WTC rumble
The tower collapsed as they reached the 13th floor.
Ms Guzman-McMillan lay buried for over a day; she says it felt "like forever".
"I remember it just like if it was yesterday. I can just envision myself being under the rubble. I was in disbelief - 'is this real, am I dreaming?' 'Is this actually happening, am I under here?'
"But I came to the conclusion that it was real when I felt the pain, and I couldn't move, and I was completely stuck, I realised that it was happening. And I couldn't cry out.
"Physically I couldn't cry out, I didn't say anything, I couldn't scream, I didn't ask for help - I don't know if it was fear, or shock because I was completely alert.
"I could hear everything that was happening around me, I could hear the noise and the voices and the radios going off, but I just couldn't speak, and I just lay there calmly, but mostly preparing to die or still thinking to myself, 'this is a dream', that I would get up and be back in my office."
She continues: "I felt that I was like I was going to give up. And I just shook my eyes and I said to myself, 'nobody's gonna find me, nobody's gonna hear me, I just want to be gone'."
Ms Guzman-McMillan tells ITV News it was at the point where she was about to close her eyes and "give up" when, she says, "somebody grabbed me by my hand and called me by my name."
"Nobody's going to find me, nobody's going to hear me, I just want to be gone" - Genelle Guzman-McMillan was losing hope of being rescued 27 hours after being buried
"I held on to his hands so tight... And he kept holding my hand, and kept having conversations with me and telling me that, 'you're gonna be fine, I'm not gonna let you go, just keep holding my hand'.
"I kept squeezing his hand, and I felt like I had a smile on my face because my body kind of went calm."
Ms Guzman-McMillan says it is "important" to remember the attacks 20 years on.
"I live with every day of my life. I see the scars on my leg, my injuries, I see it, I live it, it is nothing I can get away from."
She said the experience changed her "physically, mentally, spiritually" helped by her Christian faith that strengthened in the years after 9/11.
"It impacted my life in a very, very positive way and I wouldn't change it for the world, despite my injury. I wouldn't change it for who am I today." She says she feels as if God has given her a "20 years extension" on her life.
"I am blessed to be here but I wish my other workers were here as well."