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Campus News / News

Rockford University experience creates pathway to the American dream

08/20/2020 2:50 pm

Rockford University alumni Sobhi Baghdadi ’15 at graduation in cap and gown

When Sobhi Baghdadi ’15 first considered attending Rockford University, it seemed like a good way to leave the unrest of the Middle East for a year or two.

He never imagined it would become a pathway to life in the United States.

Seven years later, however, Sobhi is a permanent U.S. resident and works as a financial advisor in the St. Charles office of Savant Wealth Management.

Rockford University alumni Sobhi Baghdadi ’15 holding a flag
Sobhi Baghdadi ’15 holding the Lebanese flag.

“Attending Rockford University was a life-changing event,” he said. “It was the gateway that opened my eyes to a career and future in the United States.”

With a finance degree from American University of Beirut in Lebanon, Sobhi enrolled for Rockford University’s MBA program at the urging of his uncle, a longtime Rockford physician.

“He told me about Rockford University and said, ‘I know it’s a good program because a lot of the executives from Rockford companies teach there,’” Sobhi recalled.

With civil unrest near his family’s home in The Middle East, the idea of attending school in the United States for a few years was attractive. Perhaps after graduation, he thought, the situation would have settled down and he could return.

But with the help of Rockford University’s Office of Global Affairs, Sobhi settled quickly into American life and began to envision a future here instead.

“When you start living the American Dream and you start seeing opportunities of the future, there is no limit,” he said. “As much as you can work, this country will be your land of opportunity. I felt that if I really wanted to leave my fingerprint on this life, this should be my home.”

Rockford University alumni Sobhi Baghdadi ’15 jumping in front of University sign
Alumni Sobhi Baghdadi ’15 and Tariq Al-Mutawa ’15 in front of the Rockford University entrance.

Even today, he remembers the lessons he learned at Rockford University in both his personal and professional life. From the MBA program director, he learned professionalism and management skills. From his organizational communication professor, he learned how to handle life situations in the United States.

“That was my roadmap to live in the US,” he said.

And from his business law professor, he got a fascinating glimpse into the three-branch government system in the United States. He continues to read and research current events through that lens.

“He gave me my first introduction to the judicial system in the United States,” Sobhi said. “It made me love even more the law in the US and how the interaction of the three branches of government happen.”

Thanks to Rockford University events intended to blend US and international students, Sobhi learned about American culture and found others very welcoming of his. The Office of Global Affairs, through its events and staff, showed Sobhi what it meant to live in the land of the free, with rights and protections that aren’t found in non-democratic societies.

“The Global Affairs Office was what let me live in this country – to feel safe, healthy and included,” Sobhi said. “It’s the bridge between the university and the rest of the world.”