UCI Student Produces First ever Scholarship Program for Refugees


Kevin Sullivan (OC Register) Staff Photographer

Iman Siddiqi, founder of the Refugee Student scholarship program on the UCI Campus.

Brandon Russell, Editor

That of scholarships for refugees seeking a UC education here in the United States has been a scarce idea over the years. With the current epidemic among the status of refugees here in the U.S. Iman Siddiqi, a native of the Middle East and a political science major at UCI, organized a fundraiser earlier this month to establish what is being called as the first student-led scholarship program of its kind in the country, according to the OC Register.


Teaming up with organizations including Books not Bombs and other pro refugee scholarship committees, Siddiqi is the first ever “to set the model for future” advances in that of Syrian scholarship programs. According to the OC Register, more than forty universities have taken the initiative to offer scholarship programs to refugees; however, the one spearheaded by Siddiqi will be the first ever to offer them at the UC level while being coordinated by the student body. Known as the Refugee Student Scholarship Program, Siddiqi’s advancements in that of scholarship programs for UC schools is spreading like wildfire. This past year, the University of Southern California gave out six scholarships to syrian refugees.


However, according to Siddiqi herself, what she is trying to change is “the education [the Syrian refugees] need to go back and rebuild their community.” By allowing scholarships to not only Syrian refugees, but to people from all over the world, “that of education” and change in these impoverished communities will be forever improved.


According to the OC Register, Siddiqi was Inspired by her trip to Turkey three years after the creation of this program, Siddiqi saw the “tattered clothes and the begging,” of the Turkish community. Shocked by their “passion for education,” Siddiqi returned home and connected to Syrian refugees online in hopes that coming to America would forever change their lives for the better.


With the up and coming program containing volunteers from Access California, UCI representatives, and the UCI senior herself, the program is set to give out scholarships to refugees from all over the world, not just Syria.


Cole Smith (11) loves the idea that “refugees get to experience the beauty and tranquility the United States has to offer after going through all the hardships that they have been through.” Also that “this program is good in bringing in a lot more culture into the United States.” Although Siddiqi knows she “cannot stop the war,” she knows that this program will bring a lot of happiness to students and refugees all around the globe.