“I always felt that the US is one of those countries that can accomplish anything. The environment, the people, and the culture are open to new possibilities, and everyone works very hard to hold on to the values that set the US apart from rest of the world.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Roosevelt Purification; the CEO & Founder of Roosevelt Games, LLC and the author of 5 Pillars of Success. He immigrated to the United States with his parents when he was 12 years old. He is also a Software Engineer, and during his career, he has worked with organizations like NASA, the Department of Education, The Agora and many others.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh and I came to the US when I was 12 years old with my parents on a Diversity Visa. When I was in Bangladesh, my parents had corporate jobs, and we lived a good life there. However, my parents felt that my sister and I would have a brighter future in the United States. After moving to the United States, it was tough for us to get acquainted with the new environment, culture, language, my parents struggled to get a decent job, and similarly, my sister and I experienced our share of difficulties.
First few years were difficult since English wasn’t our first language and we weren’t fully aware of the American culture or our benefits. As a result, it took us some time to get used to everything, make friends and position ourselves to make the most out of the opportunity the United States offered us. I feel fortunate though. Despite all the challenges and unpleasant experiences growing up, I was surrounded by good people who cared about me and genuinely wanted the best for me. People like my past teachers, my family, my close friends and the resources that were available to me allowed me to have the courage to pursue the things I have today.
Was there a particular trigger point that made you emigrate to the US? Can you tell a story?
Since I was very young, I wasn’t fully aware of the real world and didn’t have any particular reason to come to the US. However, I am not sure if it’s a coincidence or my burning desire, but growing up I loved watching WWE’s wrestling shows. Back then, the company just launched a program called ‘Tough Enough.’ It’s a competition where athletes compete with each other to prove to the WWE that they are worthy to become a WWE superstar/wrestler. I was 10 or 11 years old and had no idea about immigration or how difficult it is for some people even to visit the United States. However, a miracle happened, and about six months later, my parents told my sister and me that we won the Diversity Visa lottery and we will be going to the US embassy for an interview. To this day, I still question myself, whether it was just a coincidence or my desire to become a WWE superstar jumpstarted my future in the US.
Can you tell us the story of how you came to the USA? What was that experience like?
My life in the US wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for my mom, Rekha Palma. She is the sole reason why we were able to come to the US and live this beautiful life we have today. My dad, Sebastian Purification was always opposed to leaving Bangladesh and felt that his parents, siblings and rest of the family needed us the most in Bangladesh. However, later they thought that my sister, Sonia Purification and I could have a bright future in the US and wanted to give us our best chance! My mom started submitting the Diversity Visa forms around 1985 I believe, and finally after 15 years later, we got the lottery around 2000–2001. My mom would always submit two applications, one under her name and the other under my dad’s name. My dad was aware of her efforts but didn’t necessarily discourage her. Surprisingly, my dad won the lottery!
First few months in the US was excellent. We came around summer time, so we spent most of our time checking places out, visiting my parent’s friends and getting our paperwork ready for school and other formalities. I didn’t immediately make any friends and started to make friends after I started school. I loved the new weather, clean environment, people of various cultures, fresh foods and everything around me fascinated me! However, I wasn’t very fond of the fact that I needed to stay home all by myself when my parents were still out working for up to at least 10:30 PM almost every day!
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped make the move more manageable? Can you share a story?
Not just me but I believe our family is forever grateful to our family friend Bernard Rozario and his beautiful family. We did not have any close relatives in the US, and during the Immigration Process, they ask for an Affidavit of Support to prove that someone can support us temporarily until we are ready. So, our family friend Bernard Rozario and his family sheltered us, and we stayed with them for about a month before we moved to our apartments, and my parents had their first jobs in the US.
Bernard Rozario and his family helped us out greatly! From finding an apartment to getting enrolled in schools to doing all the formalities to obtain our social security cards, green cards, and other paperwork. They even drove us to places and also attended job interviews with my parents.
So how are things going today?
Because of all the sacrifices my parents have made for my sister and me, we were able to make the most of all the opportunities in the United States, and we are indeed living an American dream today. Back in Bangladesh, my parents worked at corporate offices and held prestigious positions. However, after coming to the US, my parents changed their careers entirely and gave up so much. My dad was a Sr. Structural Engineer, and my mom was a Sr. HR Associate. However, today, my dad works as a cashier, and my mom is a preschool teacher.
As for my sister, she works for the US government, completed her Masters, while I started my own business and also work as a Sr. Software Engineer for NASA GSFC. My sister got married to Hubert D Cruze. He is also an immigrant, and he already completed his masters here and currently pursuing another masters degree. Like us, my wife, Juthika Gomes is also an immigrant and now focusing on finishing up her undergraduate studies in the US.
My dad retired, and mom will be retiring very soon. My sister and brother-in-law moved away after buying their dream home. Juthika and I live with my parents and we hope to support them as long as we can.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I thought about becoming an entrepreneur or running my own business when I was in High School. The primary motivation back then was to support my family and me with extra income. However, I learned that there is no easy way to make money. You genuinely have to add value to someone’s life before they will hire you or pay you for your services. So, I always tried to give nothing but the best to my employers, wrote books or articles to help someone get a jumpstart in life or career, created software applications to make people more productive, helping new immigrants by offering them advice, hired freelancers to work various projects and currently pursuing my dream business. I wish to use games and technologies like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality to create contents to give beautiful experiences to people, children and create more jobs for both immigrants and the natives as my company grows.
You have first hand experience with the US immigration system. If you had the power, which three things would you change to improve the system?
Here are the three places I see the immigration system can be improved:
1) Consolidate all the paperwork: During the lifecycle of the immigration process, you have to go through USCIS, NVC, Social Security Administration and others to get everything ironed out. In most cases, we needed to submit duplicate documents in all these organizations. I believe that the Immigration System would be most effective if they had everything databased in one place and we didn’t have to send documents back and forth to various offices or talk to different groups of officials.
2) Make room for more Work Visas: I feel that there are plenty of bright people all around the world. However, sometimes they are unable to come to the US because there isn’t enough quota to support them or in some cases, someone with a higher degree gets the priority. So, having more quota or making the immigration system more flexible for someone with a general degree would be life-changing and also useful for the sponsoring company.
3) The US needs to help the immigrants after they are in the US: Once we arrived in the US or when my brother-in-law or my wife immigrated to the US, I noticed that the US immigration system provided us limited support. When someone new comes to the United States, he is not fully aware of all the opportunities available to him or has a hard time supporting himself, his family and his dreams. So, if the US immigration system also provided free English courses, guaranteed employment with medical insurance and helped someone find jobs relevant to their career, the life of an immigrant would be much better and different today!
Can you share “5 keys to achieving the American dream” that others can learn from you? Please share a story or example for each.
The first step to realizing your American Dream is to define it in your own words and go after it. Your definition of the American Dream will be personal to you but always have faith and confidence that whatever goal you have in mind is achievable. When I thought about getting a job at NASA, I was 21 years old without a college degree. However, I started working when I was 17. So, I already had four years of real-world experience to prove to the recruiters at NASA that I am good enough. Many people shy away when they see that they are not an exact match for whatever goal they want to go for and thus never try. However, I feel that in the USA, the organizations understand that and they are willing to give you a chance based on your other merits.
The next step is to get your mindset right. Life does offer you a lot of incredible opportunities and experiences, but it can get difficult very quickly if you are not continually developing yourself. Try to open your mind to new possibilities, open yourself to more people and try to establish unshakable confidence and faith in yourself. Whatever life you are living right now is your doing. Despite all the influences, you made the final decision. So, always try to make the best decisions during those moments. When I was young and in high school, my peers at that time tried their best to influence me. They wanted me to tag along with them, go to parties, get drunk, play sports, work at a store and other things young people do. However, my goal was to get a job at a beautiful office after High School. So, I refused all those temptations and focused on freelance work and other online businesses I could do as a teenager. Fast forward all these years; I had the opportunity to work for organizations like NASA or the Department of Education whereas the peers who tried to influence me back then are still in their initial career choices.
Then, you want to learn new things continually. It doesn’t have to be relevant to your version of the American Dream. If you read various types of books, go for different experiences or have different hobbies, they can open you up to new things and give you fresh perspectives. For example, when I got into programming and computers, I didn’t just limit myself to computer science related work or courses. I spent a significant amount of time reading music theory, music composition, biology, physics, singing, photography, acting and graphic design. All these outside knowledge, allowed me to solve various business problems and come up with creative solutions throughout my career.
Also, I think it’s essential to surround yourself with like-minded people. There’s a saying that, whom you hang out with is whom you become. Also, many entrepreneurs say that you are the average of the top 5 people you spend your time with. I too believe that is true. Because growing up, I hung out with good people, negative people and people who didn’t necessarily support me in my goals, visions or career choices. However, hanging out with the ones who helped me and made me feel good about myself, made all the difference! For example, when I was hanging out with the folks who weren’t ambitious or too afraid to go after their dreams, I found myself falling behind or adopting their limiting beliefs. However, when I started to hang out with enthusiastic people with good habits, I found myself making more healthy decisions, or my goals became much easier to achieve.
Finally, try to add more value to the people around you and in your society. We might fool ourselves thinking that we don’t need anyone and we can be happy all by ourselves. However, at our core, we are social beings. Moreover, it makes us happy when people appreciate us or when we could become part of someone else’s happiness. Throughout my career or in my journey to live my American Dream, I found that when I genuinely helped people and tried to solve their difficulty like they were my own, I became more empathetic and people appreciated me much more for my efforts. However, when I provided my services like it was just a job, I wasn’t happy, and my prospects weren’t too satisfied either. By adding more value to other people’s lives, your own life becomes more rewarding, and you get support from many people who will help you achieve your American Dream. Your American Dream doesn’t have to be accomplished all by yourself. There’s no shame in asking for help when you need it! I wouldn’t be where I am today if my family and friends didn’t support me along the way.
We know that the US needs improvement. But are there 3 things that make you optimistic about the US’s future?
I always felt that the US is one of those countries that can accomplish anything. The environment, the people, and the culture are open to new possibilities, and everyone works very hard to hold on to the values that set the US apart from rest of the world.
The technological improvement the US is making or going after will make our lives not just in the US excellent but rest of the world as well. Perhaps soon, the general public will be able to travel to Mars or the moon. Or at least we could go to another state within an hour.
Recently there were talks about making education free up to community college in the US. If that comes to fruition, it will change the lives of many people who cannot afford to go to college because they need to do jobs to support their family or not eligible for student loans, scholarships or financial aid.
I also believe that the US is incredible at protecting our freedom to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. The US government spends trillions of dollars on the US army, latest research and takes on other initiatives to protect the general public from outside threats and forces. With all the newest research and bright minds working together, I am sure the US will only get stronger and make things much better for us as time goes on.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
I believe that the seed to become an Entrepreneur came from my hero, Vince McMahon, the Chairman of the WWE. I always loved the character he played on TV, and I wished to become a Billionaire growing up. So, I’d like to have a chat with Vince McMahon, learn from him and share my ideas for various storylines he can try in his WWE programs.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
If you would like to see the entire “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me” Series In Huffpost, Authority Magazine, ThriveGlobal, and Buzzfeed, click HERE.
Originally published at medium.com