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Dear Minnesota - Epiphane Awokou

Epiphane Awokou

Mounds View - 1st Generation - Togo and West Africa


Dear Minnesota, I am a first-generation immigrant from Togo, Africa. Minnesota is the state that I have called home for a little more than ten years now. I came to the "State of 10, 000 Lakes" straight from my other country. I say my other country because I am now a U.S. citizen since 2016.

Back in 2010, I had to put my bachelor's degree aside and work a janitor job to make a living, which I did for about 4 years. But how come that I am not being allowed to work in my medical laboratory technologist profession over here in Minnesota? In 2014, I decided to defy the odds and find a laboratory-related job. I then came across a temp agency based in New Jersey which placed me for a laboratory assistant job in New Brighton, Minnesota.

Eventually, it seems to me that Minnesota-based temp agencies got seriously mad at me that they decided to track me down wherever I go. Needless to mention that I have been kicked out of the lab-assistant job which lasted just three months. Although I went on to obtain a master's degree and currently writing my dissertation for a PhD in public health-Epidemiology, I still must be content with general labor jobs, facing tough discrimination wherever I go.

People have advised me to relocate to another state, but I know that my foes are determined to follow me wherever I go within the United States. Needless to add that all my job applications are monitored and poised to nonresponse. This is being perpetrated by a group of temp agencies and employers that I know very well. However, how can I escape the misery that they are inflicting on me? Here are some questions for Minnesota: Would this not be great for the economy if all skilled immigrants can put their skills to serve at the right level of qualification? Why should employers and temp agencies decide to put their knees on my neck until I am destroyed?

Man dressed in grey t-shirt standing outside of a van that reads "give blood"
Photograph of me volunteering with the American Red Cross
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