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One Refugee


Jordan Lean Scanlon, SVR Volunteer, Interview with

Raymon Burton,  Danny and Amanda Shakira, One Refugee

February 24, 2021

One Refugee is a nonprofit organization that aims to assist first-generation students of refugee backgrounds within Utah and Idaho in their higher education pursuits. The organization provides one-on-one mentoring and support through services such as intensive case management, educational mentoring, professional development opportunities, tuition assistance, textbooks, laptops, eyeglasses, dental care, and mental health services. The goal is graduation and a successful transition into a meaningful career. Since 2014, the program has transformed from a scholarship program and into a much more comprehensive program where financial assistance is just a component of the many services offered. The program enrolls students from refugee backgrounds who are already accepted into higher education institutions within Utah and Idaho. Once accepted into the program, students are assigned an Education Manager who meets with them once a month to ensure they are progressing in their academic goals throughout their time in the program, which is typically until graduation. Thus, the program has three pillars in which it operates: academic mentoring, professional development, and financial assistance. 

In terms of academic mentoring, Education Managers help students develop a progress plan while connecting them to campus resources (advisors, tutoring, etc.). Another program component is professional development. Education Managers also work with students to develop professional plans, connect them with mentors, and expand their professional networks. Given the organization’s focus on professional development, corporate partnerships have been prioritized and expanded throughout Utah and Idaho, which has provided students with opportunities for networking events, informational interviews, and grants for unpaid internships. 

The final pillar of the program relates to financial support as the organization serves as a last provider of scholarships that covers any remaining balances after financial aid awards are granted. Thus, financial support varies among students with some students currently receiving no financial assistance. This is especially accurate for community college students who may only require financial support for educational resources like laptops, or tuition gaps after transferring to four-year institutions. In terms of program funding, most comes from the generous donors Roger and Sara Boyer, while other funding is provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and other private foundations and organizations as well. Furthermore, the organization partners with corporations within Idaho and Utah, as well as colleges and universities—more specifically, bookstores, academic advising offices, career services, multicultural and diversity offices. A particularly interesting aspect of partnerships operating across states is that the resources provided are context-dependent. For example, One Refugee partners with Target for free eyeglasses for students in Utah but not in Idaho. 

Not only does One Refugee provide much needed financial assistance to participants, but the organization also enhances their overall sense of belonging within university communities. Emma, a program participant, noted the sense of ostracization often felt by refugee students and how One Refugee creates a feeling of inclusion: “I knew I had support [through One Refugee] besides at [my university] where I did not..feel like I was welcomed.” Overall," One Refugee aims to provide a comprehensive support system for first-generation students of refugee and migrant backgrounds through academic, professional, and financial support".

Jordan Photo.jpeg
Meet SVR Volunteer, Jordan Scanlon

Jordan Scanlon, SVR Working Group 2 Volunteer; University of Maryland, College Park


Jordan Scanlon (she/her) is a Masters student in the International Education Policy program at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her research interests pertain broadly to education in emergencies, particularly in conflict settings as well as refugee education. She is involved with the Education in Emergencies student organization at the University of Maryland and she serves as a graduate assistant in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. She is very excited to be joining the Student Voices for Refugees Network! 

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