Westminster employee, wife cast first-ever ballots
Nov. 5, 2008
By Wendy Leonard
While working to protect the campus at Westminster College for the past 20 years, Saeed Rezai has also been working for his right to vote.
Rezai, 50, and his wife went together to the polls for the first time Tuesday, marking what he calls "a dream come true" for the former Iranian citizen.
"It's an unbelievable feeling that after 22 years I finally get to vote," said Rezai, who is director of campus safety at Westminster, "and the timing couldn't have been better."
He came to America along with an unprecedented group of international students in the late 1980s and he ended up at Westminster as a student. He worked on campus with the campus patrol and in 1990 earned a degree in computer science. He's been on campus ever since.
"I don't think there is a more loyal and committed employee than Saeed Rezai," said Steve Morgan, Westminster vice president for institutional advancement and alumni relations. He has supervised and worked with Rezai for two decades now and has witnessed the struggle for Rezai to gain citizenship.
"I don't think anybody ever expected it to take this long, but he never gave up," Morgan said. "He wanted to be an American."
After 22 years in the country and several fights to put off deportation, aided by intervention from Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and a campus-wide letter campaign at one point, Rezai was able to vote Tuesday. He was officially sworn in as a U.S. citizen in July.
"The path was a roller-coaster ride, and I never thought it would end," Rezai said. "Several times I wanted to throw in the towel, but the Westminster community has been unbelievable and I'm so grateful I didn't give up."
Rezai's ballot casting Tuesday really put his citizenship in motion as Morgan said "he was all smiles."
"When you see somebody who wants to have that right, and goes through what he did to get it, I think you never again take it for granted," he said.