If you want to become a U.S. citizen, follow these 3 tips from Stork and Fox's CEO
Posted on August 21 2017
Imagine... You come to America 3 weeks before 9/11. Then after 9/11 your mom calls you crying that you need to come home because they're going to bomb you, too.
You learned a little bit about Lauren's background of starting Stork and Fox, and now you can learn a bit about how I got here and where we're hoping to go from here. Lauren studied journalism at the University of Florida.(Go Gators!) I tell people that I'm a Gator by marriage but now by heart as well thanks to Olivia :) So, we thought it'd be fun to write this blog post as a Q&A where she's the journalist and I'm the subject.
Q: Let's give our readers a Cliff's Notes version of why and how you came to America.
A: I grew up in Eastern Slovakia (Slovakia used to be part of Czechoslovakia that broke up in 1993) in a region called Spis (pronounced Spish), in a quaint, small city called Spisske Podhradie right below huge, beautiful Spis Castle. It was the perfect, small, and safe place to grow up, surrounded by family and friends.
At an early age, I grew an interest in all things computers which also meant learning English. I stuck with that throughout high school and that also got me to come to the U.S. to study computer science and business at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, OK. I was super lucky to experience amazing American hospitality throughout college and stayed with 3 different host families.
In 2004, a year before I graduated, my sister and her husband came to the U.S. by winning green cards in a green card lottery and shortly after moved to Jacksonville, Florida. Once I graduated, I moved there as well to be closer to them. I started my career in IT a few weeks later and have truly enjoyed various aspects of it ever since.
Q: Do you have any tips for people that want to come to the U.S.? What are the top 3 things that you would recommend to them trying to realize their goal?
A: When I came to the U.S. right before 9/11, things were a little bit different, a little bit more "relaxed" in applying, reviewing, and getting approved or denied for your visa. We all remember and forever mourn thousands of lives lost on that tragic day. That day changed the lives of many millions of people living inside but also outside the U.S., but here are a few things from my experience.
Tip #1 - Give it a shot, but not just any shot... the best one you possibly can! It may sound cliche, but it's really true. If you show enthusiasm, drive, discipline, and most of all courage, you too can make it!! The road will be very scary, hard, and often lonely, but the fruit will come.
Tip #2 - If you or your parents don't have enough money to send you to study in the U.S. for 4 years, which is normally the case for many families sending their kids to study here, try to break it up. Focus on having enough for 1 year. That's what I did, and it worked out. Why did it work out? Because I didn't give up! I didn't even think about giving up even when I had to drive on a tiny little scooter in snow in Oklahoma. (I'm not a short guy either.) What kept me going is the drive that one day it'll get better. One day I can turn this around, use my new skills that I'm learning, be nice to people, and prove all those critics and naysayers that it can be done. Opportunities that you never imagined will open up and you'll make it!
Tip #3 - You may say... well it was easy for you since you lived with all these families, etc. I did get a little bit of help with my first family, but that one actually lasted only few months. At that time, I had a choice to make - go back to Slovakia or try to figure this thing out so that I could continue my studies and keep on dreaming. Here are a couple of ways that you can find a host family as well... talk with your international adviser at your school, write an appeal letter to non-profits or churches / temples / synagogues, and look online for U.S. host families.
Make friends! You never know when and how they'll be able to extend a helping hand during hard times. And pray! Pray to God or whoever you believe in. If your intentions are good - good for others around you and good for you too - they'll come true. They most likely will not happen the way you thought they would, but they will come true.
Q: OK, now that I'm done crying, what led to the creation of Stork and Fox 16 whole years later of you arriving on American soil?
A: I've enjoyed building other people's IT businesses for over a decade. When an opportunity opened up to take over an existing online baby boutique, I jumped on it. Timing may have seemed crazy especially with birth of our baby girl Olivia in early June, but I was done reading about all of these cool online businesses, their failures, and their successes. I wanted to see what we can do ourselves!
I'm super excited about Stork and Fox. I feel that we fill in a great void in the market place by offering super cute newborn baby and kids clothes at amazing prices. Everything is less than $30. Our goal is to make super adorable be super affordable!
I flew here exactly 16 years ago, a young, green, 19 year old kid from a small country that nobody had heard of. I can't wait to see what the next 16 will bring in this American journey... now as a husband, father, small business owner, and a U.S. citizen!
If you're looking to come to study in the U.S. or have any questions about my journey please don't hesitate to contact me at email@example.com.
Co-Founder of Stork and Fox
To celebrate Daniel's 16 year American anniversary and the fact that he just became a U.S. citizen last month, we picked our favorite red, white, and blue outfits that we have. If you or anyone in your family is about to become a U.S. citizen as well, hopefully these sweet little outfits will help make your celebration that much sweeter.