Let Naz In
I was born in a middle-class family in Tehran, Iran. I was raised by parents who taught me to love and respect people regardless of their race, religion or background. I learned to value education for its contributions to community life, its role in advancing social justice, for its capacity to open to people worlds of cultural and artistic excellence, and in the largest sense for its contributions to human flourishing.
My passion for mathematics and problem solving started as a young girl. I studied hard for years and performed highly in university entrance exam, that is mandatory in Iran to get in college and university. I was admitted in one of the top ranked universities in Iran with full scholarship to study Industrial Engineering. Soon after I started the program, I knew I wanted to go to graduate school. I started considering options to study abroad. After lots of research, I decided America was a great choice. There were lots of universities offering great graduate programs in Industrial Engineering, well known professors that would have been great advisors. I knew I could achieve my educational and professional goals. Also, having friends in the United States, I had heard great things about how nice American people are and how the always welcome immigrants warmly. I took TOEFL and GRE test and prepared all my documents to apply to universities. I got admission from several universities and full scholarship from Northern Illinois University.
Unfortunately, around the same time my sister who is also a highly educated young woman with a masters degree in Electrical Engineering, was diagnosed with MS. This was heartbreaking for my family and made the decision of leaving my family even harder for me. However, I knew I could become a better person and help my family and society more by the education I could receive in the United States. I had to pursue my American dream to become a young professional that can make a positive change.
The process was not easy. Not having a United States embassy in Iran, I had to travel to Turkey for my visa interview. None of this was financially easy for me and my family but I didn’t give up because I had hope of a bright future. My visa was approved but had to undergo additional clearance process before getting issued. This was typical procedure for Iranian citizens and was understandable because any country needs to assure the person they are admitting to their country is not a threat. I was clear and granted a student F1 visa. I entered the United states August 13, 2010 for the first time.
I started my Masters program in the department of Industrial Engineering at Northern Illinois University. Soon I was offered multiple opportunities such as working as engineer in residence at Caterpillar Inc. I was granted membership to Alpha Pi Mu, Industrial Engineering honor society based on my high performance. I was also part of Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE), and Society of Women Engineers (SWE) promoting engineering to young students. I received my Masters degree from Northern Illinois University with a 4.0 GPA.
Alpha Pi Mu initiation ceremony
My F1 visa was single entry and unfortunately, I didn’t leave the country to visit my family. I hadn’t seen them for almost three years, in January 2013, I got a phone call informing me that my father has been killed in a car crash. Despite the horrifying news, I managed to finish the semester, but I was determined to go be with my family. Even though I knew I had to re-apply for visa, I had to see my family and I had faith that I will be granted another visa without any issues since I had dedicated my life in the United States to education and academic activities. I didn’t have anything to worry about so I left for Iran in May 2013. I re-applied for visa and my visa went through clearance process again. I received my new visa without any issues after the clearance was completed and returned to the United States to pursue a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering at Clemson University with full Scholarship in August 2013.
Excited to start my life as a Clemson Tiger
During my graduate studies, I wrote several papers and participated in multiple national and regional conferences. I promised myself to visit my family at least once a year to help my sick sister and my mother who was left with no help after my father’s death. I visited Iran again in March 2014. Once again, I applied for visa and I was granted a multiple entry visa this time which was the best news to me and my family. This enabled me to visit again in 2015 without having to re-apply for visa. After several accomplishments including receiving scholarships from IIE and Clemson University, I graduated with my Ph.D. in August 2016.
Being awarded Janine Anthony Bowen Graduate Fellowship
Soon I found a job at a technology firm in Greenville area and started working as a data scientist. I couldn’t be happier with my job and the team I was working with. I have always loved animals and I felt like after years of being in school, this was the time to adopt a puppy. I rescued a puppy that had multiple issues including GI problems. I knew he had less chances of getting adopted because of his issues. I knew he was the one and I adopted my adorable dog, Dexter.
I had my OPT on F1 and employment authorization form, legally enabling me to work and live in the United States. My company also started my greencard application process. Late January I took a three-week vacation to visit my family. I had a valid multiple entry F1 visa with valid OPT and employment authorization card. I had my employment letter and pay stubs, even my old visas just in case! I arrived to Tehran on Monday 1/22/2017. Before I could even enjoy being with family, on Wednesday I heard rumors about a new executive order that will ban citizens of seven Muslim countries including Iran from entering the United states for 30 days. It was shocking and I couldn’t believe a country like United states that is all about acting based on law and supporting human rights, will keep someone who has lived there for almost seven years and have valid visa and documents from returning to her home.
On Thursday morning on president’s agenda, I saw signing executive orders. I got alerted and looked for the first available flight back to the United states with Emirates Airline. But it was too late… The order got signed that evening. I still got on my flight and made it to Dubai, at Dubai International airport I was denied boarding the plane heading from Dubai to Washington. I was shocked, was that real? Did this happen to me? A million thoughts rushed through my mind, what happens to Dexter now? He is waiting for his mom to come home. Who is going to take him for doctor visits? What happens to my car at the airport parking? What happens to all my life’s possessions from the last six and a half years living in my home in the United States? What happens to my lease? Is my landlord going to think I just left and didn’t care? What happens to my job, my life, and my American dream?
No one warned me when I was leaving from Atlanta airport for Tehran. No one told me what to do when I was deported in Dubai. No one told me what to do with my life in the United States. No one even cared how I am going to go back to Tehran from Dubai, they said I don’t belong there, they said my life in the United States didn’t matter. They said that by removing me from that flight… And now no airline will board Iranians, except those with American passport, on any plane heading to the United States.
I humbly ask for your support in my return to the United States, to my home, my dog, my car, my career, and my friends. My story will be much like others who dedicated their lives to their dream – the American Dream – and whose intentions and lives were turned upside-down on Friday without notice or reason.
I very much look forward to having the freedom to return to my home.
"For most of the past three or four days, I have been trying to get an update to share with all the amazing people that have been supporting me and asking about my status. I wish I had an answer to escape this uncertainty and anxiety. Unfortunately, it is still unclear if/when I will be able to return to the United States and I don't know when I might get an update.
I am aware that much is being done through government and I truly appreciate all the support and leadership from Senator Graham, Senator Scott, Congressman Duncan, and everyone else who has been working on my case. I am also so thankful for all the support I have been receiving from all of my friends, my Modjoul family, Clemson University, and thousands of people that I have never met but have been supporting me and the countless other people caught up in all of this.
A few other updates, I am in Tehran with family and I am grateful for that. However, I am not able to spend any quality time with them. They are just as shocked and upset as I am. We spend most of our time following the news, anxiously waiting for any good news. Dexter is being taking care of by my amazing friends/neighbors. I want to get updates and pictures of him everyday but it is just heartbreaking to see them and not know if I will ever be able to get back to him. My car is still at the airport, and all my belongings are still in my apartment. I don't really have any long-term plans as it's hard to plan not knowing what's coming next.
Please know that the outpouring of support means more to me than I could possibly express, and regardless of the outcome, I will always be grateful for it. That said, I really want to go home."
@Buffy: With all due respect you can't be any further from wrong. But I don't blame you, the visa/immigration process is ridiculously long and confusing. So let me break it down. -Her VISA IS VALID and she received an "OPT" which is a LEGAL CERTIFICATION AND PERMIT TO WORK in the states in any company related to her field of graduation, the USCIS issues it. This permit is 2 years long and renewable. - While she is on the OPT her company is filing for her green card "or permanent residence" so she wouldn't have to renew her work permit in two years. - IT'S DEFINITELY NOT HER FAULT, she has a valid visa, a valid work permit, a valid job and contract, in her field of a doctorate. And finally, again with respect, stop giving advice about "supporting a cause" or not when you don't grasp the situation. P.S: I am also a PhD graduate, in the same field, had F1 visa, had OPT, currently on H1-B work visa
@Buffy: it seems you are intent on spreading "fake news" about this issue. There is only one article which has quoted Sen. Graham and his office and there is no mention of Naz being at fault. In addition, due to your failed attempt to deceive others, I have decided to donate a little more to this worthy "cause." Good day.
LISA GILLEN to answer your question " why she didnt become a citizen if she was here so long"? Well to become a citizen is not that simple, there are steps you must follow. You cant jump from visa to citizenship. It goes visa, green card ( which i believe is in the process for her) then once you have the green card which is permanent resident card for five years you can apply for citizenship which consists of fees, background check, interview and testing followed by ceremony if the above have been passed. Im sure Naz will be working towards this goal following her American dream. I hope this answers your question. I know this because i came here as a child refugee now a citizen. *** DOES ANYONE HAVE ANY UPDATES ON HER? is anyone taking care of her dog, car and apt?? Please update. Thanks
Senator Lindsey Graham's spokesman has already stated this may not be an issue related to the current temporary ban. It may be an issue that her visa was issued to her as a student and her studies are complete. This would mean her visa is void. She will have to reapply. This would be her fault for not keeping her visa up-to-date. I'd be cautious jumping on this 'cause'.
For those of you who doubt the veracity of Nazanin's story, or question why she chose the time she did to visit her family, or question her sincerity when friends shared photos of her dog, or call her story a "sob story," please read the words of Republican Senator Lindsay Graham during his visit to Nazanin's workplace yesterday. Speaking to employees at Modjoul, Graham said, “From what I’ve been told by her friends, she was taken off a plane in Dubai, and the TSA agents in Dubai said it was a result of the order issued by President Trump. If that’s the case, we’ve made a mistake. My goal is to protect America from terrorists coming into our country, not keep this young lady out.” “She’s a valid visa holder … she is paying taxes. She is adding value to this business. She has a visa that will allow her to work here. She’s here lawfully. She’s smart. She’s intelligent. She adds value to our country, and I’ll find a way to fix this problem,” he continued.
Nazanin is OUT OF WORK until she can get back to the U.S. Meanwhile, she has bills for her home, her car, her utilities, etc! Whether it's all going to the legal fees or whether she's using it to ensure she doesn't lose everything she's worked SO hard for is irrelevant. People are giving to Naz out of the kindness of their hearts during one of the most unnecessarily difficult times of her life - if you don't want to donate, then DON'T! It's that simple. #BringNazHome #NoBanNoWall
Please don't think this insane act by our "president" represents America as a whole. Even those who support him couldn't have forseen this atrocity. (He won claiming illegal immigration reform, not legal immigration...) The U.S. is a lucky to have you & we will over come this. Please stay strong!
Reading this is absolutely heartbreaking. People do not understand the visa and citizenship process enough to make insensitive comments. My only concern is that she make it back home, yes here to the USA to her life and her puppy. Immigrants bring so much to this country and have such a deep gratitude and respect for America. This is why they choose to come here. They have helped make our country Amazing by contributing their intelectual abilities in the workforce. May this nightmare be over for her soon and she be allowed to return home to the USA!
@Kimba and anyone else writing long comments wondering why people are giving money, feel free not to donate. As far as I'm concerned, I read news articles about Naz, and interviews with her boss, so I'm sure she's real. Right now, everything she owns is in the US, and with not much more than the clothes on her back and the few items you might take on a vacation, she’s unexpectedly stuck in another country. She still needs to pay expenses to maintain her US home, she needs to live in Iran until she gets back, and she doesn't know when she'll able to work again. Trump's order revoked visas, and she may have to reapply before being allowed to come back. It made me feel better to donate. You certainly don't have to but please don't question why other people choose to help her out. I certainly can't help everyone but if I can start with this one person, it seemed like the right thing to do. I definitely don't believe I need to justify my choice of charitable giving to strangers.
Just before 2 a.m. Sunday in Boston, two federal judges ruled for two University of Massachusetts Dartmouth associate professors - Iranian nationals who are permanent legal residents in the United States - who were held at Logan International Airport when they landed after travel for an academic conference. The judges there also put a seven-day restraining order on Trump's executive action. It allows any approved refugee, visa holder, or green-card holder to fly into Boston over the next 7 days and requires Customs and Border Protection to notify airlines that fly into Logan Airport that those passengers will not be detained or forced to return. The ruling applies only to Massachusetts.
@ Susan Watson Sitaraman, the site's legit, but the request for donations for this purpose is absurd and unwarranted. She's not being held in a jail somewhere out of the country, where $30,000 (yesterday's goal, which today was lowered to $15,000) is required to pay her way out of jail and get out of that country. If her family, friends and employer need to raise a bit of money to help her out with every day things, they should be doing so privately and not on the grand scale that this is. There's zero disclosure on what this kind of large amount of money is being used for, why it's required - and while I feel absolutely awful for her - truly upset that anyone would have to go through any of this - I do NOT feel it requires donations of this size. I also have no idea what the story of her family, sister's MS and personal life has to do with what it is she's suffering by the hand of Trump's decision - one thing has nothing to do with another - that wasn't necessary and had nothing at all to do with the matter at hand. I'm very uncomfortable about their/her request for money of this sort - it's not warranted. Thousands of people have been going through horror due to this - one horror or another - not all as she is, many as she is - and it's awful, a terrible tragedy and unjust. However, we're not speaking of someone dying and unable to pay for a transplant, a death of a loved one unable to pay for a funeral, jailed in another country for no reason and unable to pay the money to get out - she's being terribly inconvenienced, frightened I'm sure, very sad, especially for her dog, I'm sure and going through great anxiety, I'm sure. Does she deserve it? Absolutely not. Does it require double digit thousands of dollars be raised for her? Absolutely not. Again, where is the full disclosure on what these double digit thousands of dollars will be spent on and why? For some it's a year's salary (it was $30K yesterday) ... why are people blindly giving away their money to someone without having any idea why this person needs this type of amount? If she returns to the US within a few days - what would that money have been used for? Will it be returned to people? She can't possibly need $15K today to pay all of her bills when she's only been gone a very short while, a week or 2 is it? So WHY is this money being raised? And who out of all donating is also going to send money to every other person this is happening to right now, because there's many? This story is being sensationalized and that offends me. How many of the people who have raised near $15K for her already within a matter of days have given that kind of money to people who are ill and can't pay their bills? Going through major health or trauma crises? What makes this woman's extremely scary inconvenience justify $15,000 required without detailed and disclosed reason?
I've given twice and I'll likely keep giving again. Giving provides me with sanity. And I don't see this as us giving to Nazanin, but it's actually Nazanin giving to us. She's giving us the opportunity to be a part of the greater Clemson family and do something good together. Thank you for this opportunity to help.
I agree with Eric that this is a "colossal waste of money and time," but also necessary, which is why I made a contribution. This is what happens when the people in charge of government are interested in fixing nonexistent problems for the sake of playing to a fact-free populace's fears and prejudices. Then, the rest of us, who do believe in facts, truth, and the constitution are left to fund solutions to the messy problems they create. I've read that conservative think tanks spend their money on creating these sorts of problems so their policies can reign supreme. Perhaps, in addition to helping Naz with her legal bills, the people contributing here could take action within the next three months to register new voters and donate to electing politicians who will reverse this president's heartless and cruel actions.
@ Hany SalahEldeen - your comment is intelligent and filled with information, correct and valid information - but can you explain, within your comment and information given, why any of it requires her to have a gofundme site and try to raise, as of yesterday, $30,000, and as of today $15,000? For what purpose does she require this kind of huge money - and for what reason does she deserve it? Because she's going through a horrific situation? I agree, she is, and I also agree it's unfair and horrible, terrible, absolutely unacceptable. However, that does not mean she deserves people giving her this kind of money. NO government officials, NO civil rights groups, NO news reporters and countless attorneys, are, or will, be charging to help her - this case is a point maker - a law make or breaker - so she can and will receive free legal assistance. WHY an WHAT makes her case anymore important than anyone else this has happened to? WHY does someone going through a horrific inconvenience require and dare to ask for $30,000 yesterday, lowered to $15,000 today? WHAT IS THE MONEY FOR?