As a 23-year old Iraqi citizen, Mohammed knew nothing of Pat Tillman when he met an American for the first time in April of 2003. He stood with dozens of locals in his hometown in Iraq as American soldiers took down the symbols of an era of atrocities. It was the moment when Mohammed says his life was changed forever. He was fascinated by the generosity of the young Americans who did their best to help the local population recover from decades of war. Mohammed was moved to the point that he volunteered to serve as a translator and linguist to the American troops he encountered.
Mohammed immigrated to the United States in 2005 and attempted to enter the U.S. military on numerous occasions. But, as an immigrant, he was not eligible. Instead, he earned his master’s degree in comparative literature from Binghamton University as a Fulbright Scholar, taught college courses and served as a contract linguist to the U.S. Army and Marine Corps. Finally, on the same day he received his permanent residency card in 2010, Mohammed left his teaching position and enlisted in the Marine Corps.
He says he is forever indebted to the thousands of young Americans who came to Iraq to serve. He credits them for changing his life and giving him the power to search for a better future. He says: “No matter what I do, I will never be able to show them my gratitude.”
His career goal is to develop a nonprofit, academic-oriented entity that focuses on working with the military to advance cultural education with updated curriculum and well-trained educators.