On June 9, after a lifetime of adversity and determination, Lorton resident Iman Kassim, 22, became a Virginia State Trooper.
At the age of three, Kassim was diagnosed with Leukemia, a form of bone-marrow cancer that plagued him for the majority of his young life.
“I underwent treatment for 10 years, until I was 13,” he said. “It was rough on me but I think it was even harder for my family.”
Only a few years earlier, Iman’s father, Mohammad Kasim, now 55, had come to the United States from Pakistan with less than $200 to his name. “I was the first in my family to come to the United States,” he said. “I wanted a better life for my family.”
Mohammad Kassim said he had always dreamed about going to the Washington, DC area.
“I landed at Kennedy Airport and then made my way here,” he said.
He became a taxi driver, something that he has done now for nearly 25 years and still does on a daily basis, and was eventually able to send for his wife and two children; Iman Kassim’s older brother and sister.
“I am the only one in my family who was born in the U.S.,” Iman Kassim said.
“When at the age of three Iman was diagnosed with Leukemia, it was very rough for us,” said Mohammad Kassim. “My wife had a nervous breakdown and she also had to be hospitalized at the same time. Many nights Iman’s brother and sister and I slept in the car outside Inova Fairfax hospital and I also had to keep working to be able to pay the medical bills.”
Iman said that when he was declared cancer free at the age of 13, he decided that he would dedicate his life to accomplishing everything that doctors told him he would never be able to do.
“I was in the first 8th-grade class at South County Secondary School,” he said. Doctors at some point had told me that I might never be able to walk again, so I decided that I would run track and be as athletic as I could. I made the track team my junior year and I also made the wrestling team.”
After high school, Iman said he decided that he wanted to go into law enforcement.
“I originally applied to the U.S. Marine Corps., but they turned me down due to my medical history. It was at that point that I decided I would instead join the toughest, most elite police force in Virginia, the state police.”
Earlier this month, Iman completed the Virginia State Police’s 26-week academy training course and is now a full-fledged Virginia State Trooper.
“We were told that Iman is only the second Muslim in the history of the state police to have completed training,” said Mohammad Kassim. “We are incredibly proud of him.”
Iman said the rigorous six-month training was challenging, and at times he was not sure he would make it. “It was a big, giant physical, mental and psychological challenge,” he said.
“There was no relaxing. Every morning at 4 a.m. I had to make my bed to U.S. Marine standards with measured folds and hospital corners, then do a 4-mile run, intense pushups and sit-ups and then push myself mentally for rigorous 4-hour academic tests. It was grueling, but I made it and now I am a trooper, the best of the best.”
A little over two weeks ago, Iman was assigned to the Chesapeake area, where he now goes out on regular patrols with a field training officer. “It is a lot different than Northern Virgina,” he said. “There is a lot less traffic, but we still see some crazy drivers.”
He hopes to one day become a police investigator with the VSP’s Bureau of Investigation.
“Mark my words,” said Mohammad Kassim. “He will do it.”