In 1991, the summer I turned 16, my family and I came to the United States seeking political asylum from the Soviet Union. We had about $600 among the five of us. Less than a month later, as we began to settle in Chicago, the USSR disintegrated and we found ourselves holding passports from a country that no longer existed.
That gives me a special reason to join other Americans in celebrating Citizenship Day on September 17. It marks the date in 1787 that the Founding Fathers signed the U.S. Constitution, but for me it is also a moment to remember my own path to U.S. citizenship and what being an American means, especially to the more than 750,000 people expected to become citizens this year.
I wrapped up high school in a hurry, worked on filing down my Russian accent, and moved to the Urbana-Champaign area in Illinois to study computer science at the University of Illinois. There I witnessed the creation of the World Wide Web from the front row: Mosaic, the first graphical web browser, was launched at UIUC the year I matriculated.
Like many immigrants, I tried starting company after company (while on campus), each endeavor a failure. My education-minded parents made it clear, however, that I was not to drop out of college. So after graduating, I packed up my meager belongings and drove cross-country to Silicon Valley to chase my entrepreneurial dreams.
Read the full story from U.S. News & World Report: “The Privilege of U.S. Citizenship”