As an immigration attorney and two-time immigrant, I am often asked what I think about our immigration process, particularly now, when immigration has been at the forefront of the presidential election. This is an important issue, which is beyond what I can cover in this short article.
However, whether you are for or against the immigration proposals, the issues and values surrounding immigration frame our nation and affect us all. Successive waves of immigrants have kept our country young, enriched and innovative. Many of these immigrants give me strength and serve as an inspiration.
Celebrate with me the contributions and successes of some of these remarkable people:
Madeline Albright – Albright was born in 1937, in Czechoslovakia. After the Soviets took over her country, Albright and her family defected to the U.S. She studied at Wellesley College, got married after graduation and had twin girls. Over the next 15 years, she completed her Ph.D., raised her daughters and volunteered in political campaigns. At age 39, she pursued her career, starting at entry-level positions. She entered politics at the urging of a former professor. In 1993, she became the American ambassador to the United Nations, and later was the first woman appointed Secretary of State. This bright and remarkable politician and diplomat of petite stature is my inspiration to think big, do big and always look up!
Albert Einstein – Einstein was born in 1879, in Germany. He was a genius and inquisitive philosopher. As a young scientist, non-one believed in his abilities – his teachers rejected them and his classmates made fun of him. Thankfully, he pursued his talents and today he is known as the Father of Modern Physics. He immigrated to the U.S. after being targeted by the Nazis. I use some of his quotes to guide my life. Some of my favorites are: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” and “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”
Audrey Hepburn – Actress, fashion icon and philanthropist, Hepburn, was born in 1929, in Belgium. She lived through the hardships and fears of WWII, under the Nazi occupation. In 1951, she came to the U.S. to pursue her career as an artist and won an Academy Award for her first American-made movie, “Roman Holiday.” She is one of the very few who can be described with the rare term EGOT – as a winner of the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Awards. She retired from acting and placed her vibrancy, elegance and grace to work on behalf of children.
Shad Khan – Khan was born in 1950, in Pakistan. He came to the U.S. at the age of 16 and worked as a dishwasher while attending the University of Illinois. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and went on to revolutionize the car industry with the creation of a one-piece truck bumper, which became the basis for his ongoing achievements. He is the owner of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars and many other very successful businesses. I am inspired by his vision, innovations and leadership. He and his wife, Ann, have donated millions of dollars to the Jacksonville community through the Jaguars Foundation.
Mebrahtom “Meb” Keflezighi – Meb was born in 1975, in Eritrea. Widely acclaimed as one of the greatest runners of our time, Meb brings a higher meaning to “going the distance.” From his arrival in America, as a refugee from war-torn East Africa, to his victorious finish at the emotionally-charged 2014 Boston Marathon, he has secured not only his place in history, but also in the hearts and minds of millions. Meb is the only athlete in history to win the New York Marathon, the Boston Marathon and an Olympic Medal. A graduate of UCLA, his record also includes four NCAA championships, 22 National Championships and a place on three United States Olympic teams. As I train for the upcoming Boston Marathon, I think of Meb.
Indra Nooyi – Nooyi came from conservative Chennai, India, in 1955 to pursue higher education in the U.S. She went to school during the day and worked as a receptionist at night to make some money. After she completed her Master’s degree, she was rejected from her first professional job interview. When she sought advice as to what to do differently next time, she was told “be yourself.” She has followed this advice ever since. By working hard, deriving strength from her traditions and being herself, she has become one of the most influential women in the world. She is the CEO of PepsiCo and in 2015, was ranked 15 on Forbes list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. She is my inspiration for determination, being yourself and having the best team around you.
These are just a few influential and inspiring immigrants who have come to America and aided in strengthening our communities, our economy and our country’s future.
Who serves as your inspiration?
Bar Bulletin originally posted online at Jax Daily Record