It’s been a long road for Sopuruchi Victor Chukwueke.
Abandoned at a Nigerian orphanage because of the large tumors taking over the front and right sides of his face, ridicule followed him everywhere he went as he became an outcast.
But his first break came on August 21, 2001 when, according to biographical information released by his attorney, orphanage nuns helped the 15-year-old Chukwueke travel to America for major surgery to be completed pro-bono.
More than a decade and seven surgeries later, Chukwueke is an aspiring doctor who recently moved one step closer to seeing his dream realized.
In an act of compassion, Congress passed a bill in mid-December granting the young man, now 26, permanent residency after denying the Nigerian native the privilege on two previous occasions.
“Victor’s amazing courage and determination exemplify much of what is so great about our country,” Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said in a statement. “Already, his example has enriched Michigan and our nation, but I know that his contributions to our country are only beginning.”
Levin first introduced the private bill, an unusual piece of legislation which applies to only one individual, in February 2011. According to CNN, Levin’s measure was the first private bill to pass Congress in two years.
The bill, if signed by President Obama, will act as a tailored version of the DREAM Act for Chukwueke—but instead of granting temporary residency, his citizenship status will be permanent.
Chukwueke has already earned his bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University. Levin praised Chukwueke for his biochemistry and chemical biology degrees, completed with a 3.82 grade-point average while he was battling medical challenges and fighting to change his status as an illegal immigrant.
With his permanent resident status, Chukwueke will now be able to officially attend the University of Toledo’s College of Medicine, which required that he be a permanent resident before making his acceptance into the institution official.
According to his lawyers, Chukwueke plans to use his medical degree to perform for others the same life-saving surgeries he received.