"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."
-John Quincy Adams
'Why Not Me?'
University of Northern Iowa sophomore Yena Balekyani plans to use her education to help people like her. She is one of nearly 40 million immigrants living in the United States. Her family settled in Urbandale, Iowa, after emigrating from the Republic of Congo when Yena was 11 years old.
"Being an immigrant myself, I am very aware and very passionate about helping people who are not from here feel like they belong," Yena says.
Yena plans to help fellow immigrants with legal issues by becoming a lawyer. She is double majoring in sociology and political science at UNI with the hopes of attending law school after completing her undergraduate studies.
"I've seen a lot of encounters where refugees don't have a voice in a legal way," Yena says. "I have experienced it and feel like I have the potential to actually help people. I feel like there are not enough people out there who do that, so why not me?"
Yena has six brothers, making it difficult for her parents to fund her college education. Instead, this responsibility falls to Yena—a task that has been made easier thanks to her receipt of the Alderman Scholarship.
Yena has a specific message for people who donate to UNI: "I would tell them that I am very thankful and that they've taken a step forward to help me achieve my dreams. Having someone I don't know actually help me out with a scholarship is really great and makes me very happy."
Yena also says her scholarship allows her to focus more on studying, be more involved around campus and devote time to volunteering.
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