Working toward a higher education, hoping to give back

Giving By Emily Larson Feb 25, 2021

Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Grace moved to Uganda as a young girl in search of a better life. She came to the United States as a refugee in 2016, and has since settled in Denver, Colorado where she is currently working toward a Bachelor of Science in social work at Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver).

Her choice of social work as a field of study, she says, was inspired by the resettlement agency that supported her when she arrived; she wants to give back to people like her. With the support of a Western Union Foundation scholarship, she now is focused on school full time, volunteering in her community, and working part-time in the career she aspires to after graduating. Her dream is to support newly arrived refugees in the United States: She understands the pain of their past and the new challenges they face as they work to rebuild their lives. Grace sees her education as the passport to doing what she wants to do, get the job of her dreams, and helping the community she has always been a part of.

As a first-generation college student, Grace was not sure where to begin with financial aid. Since MSU Denver educates 57% first-generation students like Grace, the university is committed to fostering an equitable culture while offering a high-quality and accessible college experience. This aligns with the Western Union Foundation’s belief that higher education is one of the surest pathways to economic security, and our mission of ensuring that underserved populations have access to the tools and resources needed to gain better employment, that leads to better lives. Scholarships like those from the Western Union Foundation not only help students cross the finish line and graduate, but also get them in to the workforce and contribute to society.

MSU Denver President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., has advice for students like Grace as they work toward their dream. “Study what feeds your soul, and you will be successful, and you will get the dream career, provide for your families and give back to your community,” Davidson says.

MSU Denver’s Director of Immigrant Services, Gregor Mieder, is also inspired by the immigrant community’s resilience. He hopes students like Grace can see themselves as the role models they really are and truly take pride in their educational achievements.

The Western Union Foundation has provided 25 scholarships to students at MSU Denver and invested in more than 500 scholarships worldwide since 2017.

Watch the video to learn more about Grace’s story, and how MSU Denver and the Western Union Foundation are supporting her in achieving her goals.

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