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Magazine On-line [fall 2011]
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Lino Nakwa achieves citizenship

Lino Nakwa

His dream finally came true.

Lino Nakwa ’09, a refugee from Sudan who endured years of uncertainty and anguish over his immigration status—including during his time at Transylvania—took the oath of allegiance and became a United States citizen on September 2 in a naturalization ceremony in Louisville.

Nakwa had been abducted at age 12 in his native Sudan by a terrorist group. Because of the military training that was forced upon him for a month while in captivity, federal immigration authorities initially denied him residency. While he was at Transylvania, the campus community rallied to his cause, embarking on a letter-writing and telephone campaign on his behalf. This past May, Nakwa was finally granted his green card.

“I will never forget the outpouring of support from the people on the Transylvania campus,” he said. “I know that it had a significant impact on the success of my case.”

Nakwa was among a group of 268 people from many nations who became U.S. citizens in a special naturalization ceremony held at the Galt House in downtown Louisville. The event was planned to coincide with WorldFest 2011, a three-day celebration of Louisville’s international culture.

“This is a special thing for me,” Nakwa told The Courier-Journal. “Finally getting my citizenship means I finally have a home for the first time since 1992, when I became a refugee.”
In the same week of his naturalization, Nakwa, a business administration major at Transylvania, was promoted to general manager of a KFC restaurant in east Louisville. He told an Associated Press reporter that he would like someday to pursue a master’s degree in agribusiness and use that knowledge to help relieve hunger in his native Africa.

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