Congress' Action Puts Nigerian Closer To Medical School Dream

11:19 PM, Dec 19, 2012   |    comments
Sopuruchi (Victor) Chukwueke hugs Jerry Burns at his college graduation in 2011 (KIMBERLY P. MITCHELL/Detroit Free Press)
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(DETROIT FREE PRESS) -- He arrived in Michigan from Nigeria as a 15-year-old, alone, with large tumors spread over his head and threatening his life.

A decade later, he is headed to medical school, the tumors removed and permanent U.S. residency coming his way, thanks to rare action by Congress on Tuesday.

"Today, Dec. 18, 2012, is one of the happiest days of my life," Sopuruchi Chukwueke, who goes by his middle name, Victor, told the Free Press. "The passage of this, my private bill, is the best Christmas present ever.

"Having been in the U.S. for 11 years, it seems like nothing less than a miracle to have reached this point in my life."

The House passed a special bill granting Chukwueke legal status in the U.S. Already approved by the Senate, the legislation now heads to President Barack Obama for his signature.

When Obama signs it, Chukwueke, who has been living in the U.S. on an expired visa, will be able to attend medical school. It's a journey made possible by Wayne State University faculty and staff; Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Detroit business leader Dan Gilbert, who got involved after reading a Free Press story about Chukwueke last year.

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