Western Union Scholar Spotlight: Raja

Giving By Robyn Burns Oct 14, 2022

For more than 20 years, the Western Union Foundation has focused on creating pathways to education for high-potential, in-need students. The Western Union Scholars program is one of the signature ways the Foundation provides meaningful scholarships to students who are struggling to afford their final years of college. This school year, we are proud to invest more than $500,000 in scholarship funds to support 52 students in their educational journeys.

The caliber of students who apply for Western Union scholarships is astounding, and we’re always inspired by their stories of determination and resilience. One of our 2022-2023 Western Union Scholars, Raja, recently shared her story with us:

Dear Western Union Foundation, 

Words are not enough to thank you for my scholarship… you are making it possible for me to pursue my dream of becoming a mechanical engineer. Growing up, the conditions where I lived were not encouraging to do well in school. I lost my mom at the age of four, and my dad got remarried and had seven children to take care of. I remember my oldest sister had to start working just after she got her high school education to help my dad out. However, I did well in high school and loved learning about physics and mathematics.

My dad passed away when I was 17 years old, and I spent the next few years living with various family members while trying to complete my university education. I earned my associate degree, but as soon as I turned 20, I was no longer eligible for government financial aid. I knew I had to find a stable income and was able to get a job teaching, which I did for ten years.

In 2013, I was invited by my friend to visit her in the U.S. During that trip, I realized that the best opportunity to pursue my education is in America. I started to save money by working and tutoring until I had saved up enough tuition for a year and a half. In 2018, I started studying ESL for one year until I felt ready to study mechanical engineering courses in English.

Last year when I was halfway through my bachelor’s degree it became very challenging to save enough to pay for school. I applied for work authorization due to economic hardship and I got approved. But I still couldn’t earn enough – especially with the inflation due to the pandemic. 

I can’t describe how great it felt when I was nominated for the Western Union Scholarship. I’ve always wanted to learn mechanical engineering and I feel I am living my best life when I am studying and getting good grades in all my courses. Your contribution to my education is so generous and will allow me to continue focusing on my studies. I hope to one day serve our community and keep philanthropy going in our society. I am so grateful there are foundations like yours that inspire us that there is always hope in the world. 



The Foundation works with the Institute of International Education to accept nominations, select awardees, and distribute the scholarships. Interested students must be nominated by a representative from their higher education institution. For inquiries and questions, please contact WUFoundation@iie.org.