From Refugee to Citizen: ‘I Now Understand the American Dream’

Posted by on June 28, 2013

Minnesota School of Business

Aldina Korman gets sworn in as a United States citizen.

Tuesday, June 26, 2013, will forever be a day that Aldina Korman, administrative assistant at Minnesota School of Business-Brooklyn Center, will remember: the day she was sworn in as an official citizen of the United States of America.

Korman was born in 1989 in Prozor, Bosnia, and lived there until 1999.  When she was three years old, Yugoslavia broke as a whole and split into the six republics it was made up of, which caused an almost four-year war.  While times were most definitely tough for her family during the war years, in a way, it was almost tougher after the war ended.

Due to the fact that jobs were hard to come by in Bosnia, Korman’s father traveled to Croatia to work; this meant that the family only saw each other once every few months. Surviving was difficult.

A glimmer of hope came in 1999 when Korman’s aunt sent her family sponsorship papers to come to the United States.  Korman’s mother and father discussed it in great length, and showed Korman and her older brother pictures of what life could look like.  It was decided to make the move as refugees of Bosnia.

After the sponsorship papers were approved, Korman and her family packed up everything that they could and moved first to Croatia using the last bit of money that her father had earned.  Just one month later, her parents, older brother, and younger sister made the move to the United States.

Arriving to the new country shortly before her 10th birthday, Korman remembers living in a one-bedroom apartment with her aunt and her family.  It was a small space, but they all made due until her father found a job.  Money was saved up, and eventually Korman and her family were able to move into their own apartment; years later, they were able to purchase a home.

Korman and Judge Kressel

Korman said, “When I arrived in the United States, I had so many feelings of excitement and happiness.  Those feelings disappeared quickly, though, because I didn’t know any English.  I couldn’t communicate with anyone, and I didn’t have any friends here.  My brother, sister, and I began to pick up some of the language by watching television; eventually with the introduction of ESL classes into the Minneapolis schools, we were able to learn more.  We could all finally start living the life we had pictured about a year after we arrived.”

Korman graduated from Spring Lake Park High School and attended North Hennepin Community College for a short time.  She eventually began attending classes and working at Minnesota School of Business. She has since earned both an Associate in Applied Science and a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration.  She is the first person in her family to receive a college degree.

Korman is also the first in her family to go through the Naturalization process, and all of the hard work paid off on June 26.  The Naturalization Ceremony took place at Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center, and Korman was one of approximately 450 individuals from 76 countries who were sworn in.  Presiding over the ceremony was Judge Robert J. Kressel from the United States Bankruptcy Court.  After a few opening remarks from Judge Kressel, the crowd joined together to sing the National Anthem.  Erick Garcia Luna, a staff member from Senator Amy Klobuchar’s office, read a congratulatory message from the senator, and a member from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Offices made a motion to admit the candidates for Naturalization.

Before Judge Kressel affirmed the motion, he read off a list of the 76 countries that the candidates were representing, in a crescendo of how many were from each.  Bosnia, where Korman is from, had four, and the largest representation was Somalia with 68 people.  The candidates all took the oath, recited the Pledge of Allegiance, and watched a message from President Barack Obama who also congratulated the newest members of the country.

(From left) Kelly O’Brien, Korman, and Erick Garcia Luna

Before receiving their certificates, Judge Kressel gave some final thoughts, which were inspiring to listen to.  He reminded the candidates that America is a combination of many and that the diversity each person provides helps to teach us all tolerance.  He reiterated what others had already mentioned in that there is no single way in America to think or believe, so it is perfectly acceptable and even encouraged to preserve each person’s native language, heritage and culture.  The ceremony concluded with Lee Greenwood’s video of “God Bless the USA.”

“I now understand the American dream,” Korman said.  “I have freedoms and opportunities that other members of my family don’t have, especially those who still live in Bosnia.  I do miss my home country, but I know that I will go back again to visit.  I truly feel lucky to live here, and I am so proud to say that I am now a citizen of the United States.”

Kelly O’Brien, director of admissions, and Michelle Barsness, community manager, had the privilege of attending the ceremony.  Both agreed that it was an amazing experience to be a part of as so many individuals from across the world became citizens of the United States.

Congratulations to Aldina!  Everyone at the Brooklyn Center campus is extremely proud of you!


Thank you for your Interest in Minnesota School of Business.