Sudanese Orphan Beats Odds to Gain US Citizenship

Sudanese Orphan Beats Odds to Gain US Citizenship

Save Story

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

Jed Boal ReportingAmerican history is filled with tales of struggle to reap the benefits this country offers. Today more than 200 immigrants took the oath of citizenship in Salt Lake City, many of whom persevered against extraordinary odds.

Twenty-seven Bosnians, 19 Vietnamese, a Spaniard, 35 Mexicans, three Iraqis, a Russian--all people of 57 different countries who are now US citizens.

Many left war, poverty or political persecution to pursue better lives in America. Sudanese native Puok (pock) Puok fled all three.

Puok Puok, New U.S. Citizen: “I'm so happy to become a US citizen. It's something I've been looking forward to."

The 27-year old started classes last week at the University of Utah, but it's been a long journey from his war-torn homeland to his new home.

Puok is among thousands of Sudanese boys orphaned by civil war in the mid-eighties; the people of his village were slaughtered when he was seven or eight.

Puok Puok, New U.S. Citizen: “It was civil war, people getting killed every day. That's why I left my country come to free country."

Puok walked 200 miles to a refugee camp in Ethiopia and nine years later went to another camp in Kenya. Friends died in those camps. Nine years ago he arrived in Texas speaking no English. Now Puok has an associates degree from Salt Lake Community College.

A proud teacher says he represents what she hopes for all of her students.

Kathy McIntyre, SLCC Teacher: “They start off in my class with limited English. Then they become US citizens. Next thing he'll be president of something, I'm sure."

He'll start off by studying political science.

Puok Puok, New U.S. Citizen: “It's a free country. You can choose whatever you want to do, no one can stop you from it."

Puok says he never imagined any of this would happen, he was just trying to stay alive. Now he envisions a life without limits.

Puok has been in Salt Lake City about five years. He's working for UPS while attending college.

Most recent Utah stories

Related topics



Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast