University of Northern Iowa sophomore Yena Balekyani plans to use her education to help people like her. Balekyani is one of nearly 40 million immigrants living in the United States of America, coming to the US from the Republic of Congo as an 11-year old.
“Being an immigrant myself, I am very aware and very passionate about helping people who are not from here that want to belong,” said Balekyani.
Balekyani, who lived in Urbandale, Iowa, after immigrating, wants to help fellow immigrants with legal issues by becoming a lawyer. She is double majoring in sociology and political science at UNI with hopes of attending law school at the University of Iowa or the University of California, Los Angeles after completing her undergraduate studies.
“I’ve seen a lot of encounters where refugees don’t have a voice in a legal way,” Balekyani said. “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 that do that, so why not me?”
Balekyani has six brothers, making it difficult for her parents to fund her college education. The responsibility to pay for her college degree fell on Balekyani, a task that was made easier when she received the Alderman Scholarship. She has a very specific message for people who donate to the University of Northern Iowa.
“I would tell them that I am very thankful, and that they’ve taken a step forward to help me achieve my dreams,” said Balekyani. “I know there are people who are able to help you to achieve your dreams. Having them actually help me out with money is really great and makes me very happy.”
Balekyani also says that her scholarship allows her to focus more on studying, be more involved around campus and devote time to volunteer. If you are interested in providing scholarship for students like her, please visit http://www.uni-foundation.org.