President Taylor announces Whitworth will create scholarship for a refugee student
by Meghan Laakso|Staff Writer
President Beck Taylor announced Oct. 11 that a scholarship will be awarded to a person of refugee status starting next year in honor of 2016 President Leadership Forum speaker Fareed Zakaria.
The scholarship details have yet to be decided but will be finalized and revealed in the coming weeks, said Jenny Keen, financial aid scholarship coordinator.
“It is in the works but we do not have specific criteria and award amounts worked out,” Keen said.
At the forum, Whitworth welcomed Zakaria, host of CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS”, to speak. To honor Zakaria’s appearance and the work he does in foreign policy, the scholarship will be given in his name.
Students at Whitworth generally accept the creation of the scholarship. Freshman Genevieve Brindle does not expect to see any controversy with the scholarship going to refugees.
“Students get scholarships if they are Native American,” Brindle said. “Other diverse groups get scholarships for being in those diverse groups. What makes this scholarship different from any of those?”
Whitworth already has a diversity scholarship that is given to students from under-represented racial or ethnic populations. By creating a scholarship for refugees, junior World Relief advocate Dylan Reyes said the Whitworth community will benefit greatly.
“I think the scholarship is an incredible decision Whitworth is making in order to better integrate refugees into the Whitworth community,” Reyes said. “I also think it is great to continue in providing an education for diverse students, especially since refugees are prevalent within the Spokane area.”
World Relief is an organization that provides refugees with resettlement assistance, employment services and other opportunities to make their settlement easier and fluid.
According to World Relief, Spokane welcomes and resettles up to 600 refugees a year from various parts of the world. As of 2016, Spokane has over 2,000 refugees.
Not everyone is on board with the mission World Relief is trying to complete. Junior international studies major Brittany Justham acknowledges people may feel apprehensive toward the scholarship going to refugees.
“I can see the fear related to refugees in relation to terrorism so I can see where backlash will come from,” Justham said. “I can also see the opinion that they are receiving special treatment when there are working Americans here who may feel they deserve the financial help more.”
Accepting refugees into the country leaves some people worried that Americais unknowingly allowing terrorists in. The topic of immigration and refugee acceptance is prevalent this election year and has created apprehension among many. However, Justham said she believes these worries do not affect Whitworth.
“Personally, I think the scholarship is a good idea that increases community here in Spokane and aligns with Whitworth’s values,” Justham said.
More information regarding the scholarship will come within the next month.