Azhar U.S. Citizenship

Dr. Waqas Azhar welcomed as U.S. citizen

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It takes determination, hard work and courage to become a physician. Similar dedication is necessary to become a naturalized citizen in a new country. Waqas Azhar, MD, a Fellow at SIU Medicine's Simmons Cancer Institute, has now achieved both. 

In 2013, Azhar left his native Pakistan to study medicine abroad. On April 24, he and his wife, Dr. Noor Khalid, joined 76 other guests from around the world at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum to take the U.S. Oath of Citizenship. U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen McNaught conducted the ceremony in the museum’s Union Theater.

Azhar takes oathAzhar’s decision to become an American citizen was rooted in his experiences with the people he encountered and places he has lived since first coming here on a visit visa more than a decade ago. 

He took his exams and received his medical licensing in Michigan, then completed a three-year residency in internal medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. When a fellowship opportunity in hematology/oncology appeared in Illinois, he seized it.

“I always wanted to train in a specialized health care system, for the most up-to-date medical education. Here in the Midwest, you see such a diverse population with different diseases, something you wouldn't see in a country with similar composition,” Azhar said.

“I’ve also wanted to help underserved communities, and I just love this area,” Azhar said. “I love the way people treated me here. I see how people have been rooted here for generations so I decided to stay. It’s a very good area to raise a family.” 

Azhar and Khalid married in 2017 and the couple now have a 5-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter.

Citizenship was a big step for the two, as they strive to support the liberties, freedoms and rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. “America is all about achieving the dream,” he said.

Sen. Dick DurbinAt the Naturalization Ceremony, Springfield native U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (pictured at right) addressed the group before they took the oath.

“You will hear a lot of things said about immigrants these days,” he said, “They’re not new. Since time immemorial, when immigrants arrived in this country, there were those who applauded them, those who did not. That’s a fact of historic life. But the reality is this: America would not be America without you, without immigrants, who come here and bring a special spirit.”

Judge McNaught was equally inspiring. “Even though you have pledged your loyalty to this country, you need not give up your own history, your heritage, your values or your culture. The things you cherish about your past your beliefs, your celebrations, your customs, clothes, music, literature, sports — you should continue to follow. Share and teach your new American neighbors what you have to offer,” she said. “Our diverse cultures bind us by certain principles of freedom, equality and justice. Out of many, we are one.”  

Raised in Pakistan, Dr. Azhar and his family now call central Illinois home. We extend our heartfelt congratulations on this wonderful milestone.

View photos from the ceremony on Zenfolio.

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