A man who was naturalized in Erie has been a leader in the community for over 10 years.  

Ferki Ferati was a refugee.  He and his family were forced to flee their country, but he says he could’ve never imagined how his life would turn out.  He says, “It’s a very gratifying day when you become a United States Citizen.”

For 35-year-old Dr. Ferki Ferati, that day came in 2005.  “For the first time in my lifetime, I could participate in democracy. I could vote. I could call myself an American citizen and I could be equal to everybody who lives in this country.”

It was several years after arriving in the United States as a 16-year-old refugee from Kosovo. “Everything we had was burnt down. Our homes, our animals, our farm was all burnt down.”

A young Ferati watched as his father, Selman Ferati, described the ordeal to JET 24 Action News.  “The number of atrocities and massacres is greater than the number NATO is saying.”

But today, life has changed for the Albanian Kosovar.  He’s an alumnus of Mercyhurst and Gannon Universities.  Today, he’s President of the Jefferson Educational Society. He began working at the Jefferson Educational Society when it was founded in 2008, and last year was named president.

“Nowhere else could I have imagined to go to school and get my bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate and be the leader of a community think tank,” he tells us.

Ferati lives in Erie and is married.