Victor Habinshuti was born in 1986 in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. At age 8 he left his birthplace, escaping the devastating Rwandan Genocide. The Genocide claimed Victor’s sister, mother, and most of his family. Victor and his brother traveled together and fought to survive. The brothers headed toward Zaire (today called the Democratic Republic of Congo) with an aunt and uncle, where they lived in an orphanage camp as they tried to stay safe and raise the money needed to get out of this camp. Victor finally arrived in the United States in March 1999 as a refugee. He attended the University of Buffalo where he earned B.S. in Electrical Engineering.
Victor now lives in Kansas City where he works as an electrical engineer for Honeywell. Reflecting on his life’s journey, Victor states, “the biggest source of my pride in being American is that this country is built on togetherness. The strength of this country lies not in it government, or the country itself, but rather in its people. This country is truly built for its people and by its people; in every aspect one can find there is no bigger source of power than the will of the people, and that is the biggest source of my pride in being American. I feel empowered, and I feel that I am neither more nor less advantaged than anyone else because our fates will be determined solely by the actions and decisions we make.”
Victor’s message of hope and the importance of the actions of our citizens has made an incredible impact on today’s youth. Since Victor spoke to students during a Naturalization Ceremony at Hamburg Middle School, the 7th grade social studies teacher reports that students have become more involved as responsible citizens. The Student Council and Recycling Club have more members than ever. Students stand up to bullies and pick up garbage in the hallways. Teachers have included more community activities into their curriculum. The Home and Careers classes sewed blankets for and visited with the patients of an elderly care facility near the school. Victor has touch the lives of so many at Hamburg Middle School, and we are proud to share his story throughout this great country.