February 24, 2016 | Volunteer of the Month

Humayun (Shawn) Rahman has been to nearly every Citizenship Now! event over the last four months. Read Shawn’s thoughts on why he has made such a commitment.

Tell us about yourself–do either you or a family member have a personal immigration story?

I emigrated from Bangladesh to the United States as a baby and was lucky to be naturalized when my parents became citizens. Despite being American practically since birth, I’ve always been aware of my family’s quintessential immigrant experience in America, with all the benefits and pitfalls that go with it.

Why do you volunteer with the NYC/CUNY Citizenship Now! Volunteer Corps?

I am lucky to have found CUNY Citizenship Now! at such a formative point in my life – just at the start of a second career as an attorney. I started with the Volunteer Corps as a way to fulfill the 50-hour pro bono legal services work required of new attorneys. However, now it is about so much more to me: the gratification of assisting and making new citizens is almost spiritual in nature. Yes – it brings me that much joy!

What do you enjoy most at our events?

The energy in the room is positively electric and infectious. The first thing I try to ask every new participant I greet is whether they are excited to be there. Invariably, it is a resounding YES – filled with wide-eyed, nervous, and sometimes unabashed excitement. I never get enough of that moment.

In what way(s) has volunteering with Citizenship Now! impacted you personally?

I am in awe of the gratitude and love that prospective citizens have for this country, and volunteering with Citizenship Now! put my own nonchalance about being an American in clear focus for me. Now when I think about people who are literally dying to become Americans, I feel significant pride of being one myself.

What’s one of your most memorable moments as a volunteer with Citizenship Now? And why?

My favorite and most memorable moment, by far, was a woman that was positively ecstatic about changing her name to a decidedly more American one because, as she told me, “it made her feel much prettier.” She then proceeded to laugh for about half a minute straight.

Outside of work and volunteering, tell us about some special hobbies or interests that you have.

I’ve spent the better part of the last five years working to become an attorney. At long last, I am positively giddy about returning to some old hobbies and interests, which include photography, calligraphy, fiction, playing chess and raising two goofy but compassionate kids.