The University of Houston-Victoria
made it possible for a mother from Pakistan to watch her son get his diploma at
The mother, Abida Sultana of
Lahore, Pakistan, received a letter from UHV verifying that her son, Faisal
Shahzad, was graduating. The letter allowed her to obtain a visitor visa from
the American embassy in Pakistan so that she and her two daughters, Summera and
Sahar Idrees, could attend commencement Dec. 9 at the Merrell Center in Katy.
“They wanted to come, especially
my sisters. They’ve been very delighted to have some time with me,” said Shahzad,
who finished his computer information systems degree in the summer.
Elois Kraatz, UHV international
student coordinator, said she writes letters every semester for international
students who are graduating so that family members can attend commencement. Most
international students at UHV are from India, China or Nigeria and are enrolled
in the Master of Business Administration or the Master of Science Computer
Information Systems programs. She writes the letters three to six months in
advance of graduation because obtaining a visitor visa can be a lengthy process
in some countries.
“We just verify that they’re
enrolled” at UHV, she said. “It confirms that they’re coming here to see their
family member’s graduation.”
Although the process sometimes
takes awhile, she said it is rare that the relatives of an international student
who is graduating cannot obtain a visitor visa. About 165 international students
are attending UHV. The program started in 1982.
Shahzad said his family obtained
visitor visas quickly. The visas were approved Oct. 27, and the family arrived
in Houston, where Shahzad lives, Dec. 3. This is their first trip to the United
States. They plan on staying for another month in order to travel with Shahzad
to see the country. Shahzad hopes to take them to Dallas, San Antonio and South
Padre Island and even Niagara Falls.
Shahzad came to the United States
in 2002 from Lahore to go to school. He started out at Wichita State University
in Wichita, Kan., earned his associate’s degree in computer science from Houston
Community College and then took classes from UHV.
Shahzad said that although he was
not concerned about whether his family could get visitor visas to come to his
graduation ceremony, he was pleased that Kraatz helped him through the process.
“She was very helpful,” he said.
“I really appreciate her efforts for me.”