Daniala Mohammadi was born in 1999 in Samangan Province, a mountainous region of Afghanistan. She and her family led a simple yet prosperous life on a ranch; they had pistachio crops, cows, goats, and sheep. They were a close-knit group, and all was right in their world.
Sadly, that changed as the Taliban gradually took control of the region. Daniala's grandfather and uncle were among hundreds of people killed. Daniala and her family had no choice but to flee from home to the neighboring country of Iran, and ultimately, to Turkey.
At points along a journey that brought Daniala and her father to Denver in 2013, she found herself separated from her family in a refugee camp, traveling with a human smuggler, and even jailed. As an adolescent, she learned Arabic, Farsi, Persian, and Turkish so that she could interpret and advocate for children and families in the refugee camp suffering from health conditions and injuries.
Daniala's experiences inspired her to pursue a degree in Biomedical Engineering, with the goal of developing special adjustable prosthetic limbs for injured children living in war-torn regions of the world. Now, with support from The Denver Foundation's Ambassador Scholarship, Daniala will attend the University of Colorado Boulder starting this fall.
"Higher education is very important to me and I see the value of bettering myself for the future," she says of starting college. "I am a learner for life."
Founded by an anonymous donor in 2015, the Ambassador Scholarship is awarded annually to one participant in the Refugee Leaders Scholarship Program at the African Community Center, one of the state's largest refugee resettlement agencies. The scholarship covers the full cost of attendance, including room, board, tuition, and fees, at any accredited public higher education institution in Colorado.
The anonymous donor behind the Ambassador Scholarship, an educator, was introduced to the African Community Center when her son began volunteering there.
"Being a teacher, I loved their programming for youth, especially their Leadership Scholars," she says. "Some of these youth have experienced traumatic life-changing events we can't imagine. Providing someone a college education is a way to have a huge impact on one person at a time."
The Donor was initially referred to The Denver Foundation by her financial advisor; she's now a member of our Community Legacy Society, having created an estate plan that will underwrite the Ambassador Scholarship for future generations.
Daniala's experience illustrates what can happen when someone who just needs an opportunity to unlock their potential is given a chance by a caring person.
"These refugee students inspire me; they are so motivated and have such high aspirations," the donor says. "My goal is to help them achieve any dream they set their mind to."
Scholarships help both donors and students to impact the community and The Denver Foundation awards more than $3 million per year in scholarships to deserving students through a wide range of scholarship opportunities.
Students: The best way to learn about eligibility, requirements, and application deadlines for each scholarship is to visit www.denverfoundation.org/scholarships.
Donors, volunteers, and Partners: for more information about creating a scholarship fund, contributing to a scholarship fund, or getting more involved, visit www.denverfoundation.org/scholarships.
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