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Transylvania alumnus Lino Nakwa achieves U.S. citizenship

On Friday, Sept. 2, Lino Nakwa ’09 took the oath of citizenship in Louisville. His achievement marks the end of a struggle spanning two continents and nearly 20 years.

At age 12, Nakwa and his brother were kidnapped by rebels in their native Sudan and held at a training camp for 30 days. After he escaped his captors, Nakwa spent the next eight years in a Kenya as a refugee from the Sudanese civil war.

After legally immigrating to the United States, Nakwa worked hard to be admitted as a Transylvania University student. In February 2008, he received a shock: the United States government turned down his request for a green card because the place in Sudan where Nakwa had been held captive as a boy had been classified a terrorist training camp.

Transylvania students, faculty, and staff feared that Nakwa would be deported back to Sudan, which was still wracked by civil war. The campus community organized a telethon and wrote more than 200 letters to government officials. As a result of the groundswell of support from the Transylvania community, Nawka’s case was reopened for review, putting him back on the path to citizenship.

Nakwa graduated from Transylvania in 2009 with a degree in business administration, and went on to work for Yum! Brands in Louisville. In May 2011 he was finally awarded his green card.

With his U.S. citizenship now secure, Nakwa hopes to pursue an advanced degree in agribusiness, so that he might find a way to help the people of his homeland.

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