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Nigerian Reservist enjoys new U.S. citizenship

  • Published
  • By By Tech. Sgt. Amaani Lyle
  • 459th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs Office
ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md. -- More than 5,500 miles away and with a current population just shy of 8 million, the former capital of Nigeria, Lagos, is an unlikely starting point for a young boy with little more than the determination and diligence that earned him not only the title of U.S. Air Force Reserve Airman, but U.S. citizen.

On Aug. 6, Senior Airman Kayode Lawal, 459th Mission Support Flight personnel relocations clerk, obtained his U.S. citizenship after a long and occasionally harrowing process. With the help of his supervisor, fellow MSF member Staff Sgt. Lisa Scarboro and former 459th MSF flight commander, Maj. Shanue Crouch, the 18-month journey to citizenship came to a gratifying end.

Airman Lawal came to America with hope, aspirations and the promise of hard work's reward. The 31-year-old Airman grew up in an area he said many once considered a "slum," but his parents nonetheless remained steadfast in their commitment to raise their children well and afford them the best possible education.

"Our parents put us in private schools and even though it was not easy for them, they wanted to ensure early on that opportunity for educational achievement was a significant part of my life," Airman Lawal said.

The Airman attended Federal Government College in Lagos until 1995 and worked as an elementary school teacher for three years before earning a degree in statistics at the University of Ibadan, the first university in Nigeria.

Both education and family ties are the hallmarks of his upbringing, Airman Lawal said. His father is a reverend, who with his wife of 33 years and counting, raised five children. The Airman said he is the second born and first boy.

Even his background in statistics could not have helped Airman Lawal, now a State Department Federal Credit Union employee, predict the odds of coming to America for the cultural enrichment he said he's enjoyed.

"I decided to join the Air Force Reserve mainly because I was looking for new opportunities," Airman Lawal said. "Being new to the country and not knowing my way around, I felt being a part of the Air Force would open doors while allowing me to see the world and continue educational pursuits."

Airman Lawal said his prior lack of citizenship prevented some previous temporary duty assignments, but now he looks forward to his new status being his "passport" to myriad Air Force opportunities.

"One of the best decisions I ever made is joining the U.S. Air Force Reserve and I take pride in this every day," Airman Lawal said. "We should never take freedom for granted, we should be grateful that our country's forefathers have set this precedence and we should endeavor to follow suit."