The 1986 act didn't turn illegal immigrants into citizens on the spot. It granted temporary resident status only to those who could prove they had resided continuously in America for five years. After 18 months, their status could be upgraded to permanent residency, and only after another five years could they become U.S. citizens.
When I decided to go to art school, it wasn't necessarily something I thought I needed. No one talked about graduate school when I was an undergrad. I went on to a residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem, and that transition from Yale to the Studio Museum, that was the real beginning of my professional career.
Towards the end of the military service, I had to make what I assume has been the most important decision in my career: to start a residency in clinical medicine, in surgery, which was my favorite choice, or to enroll into graduate school and start a career in scientific research. It was clear to me that I was heading for graduate school.