Shoreline Community College welcomes inaugural #YouAreWelcomeHere scholarship recipients

Friday, February 14, 2020

Scholarship recipients Maral Atayeva and Yara Musad, 4th and 5th from left respectively, were honored at a welcome reception for the #YouAreWelcomeHere scholarship at Shoreline Community College. They pose here with staff from the College’s Foundation and International Education departments. Photo courtesy SCC.

Maral Atayeva, a native of Turkmenistan, and Yara Musad, from the Republic of Sudan, began their studies at Shoreline Community College this fall thanks in part to the #YouAreWelcomeHere scholarship offered through a partnership between Shoreline’s International Education department and The Shoreline Community College Foundation.

#YouAreWelcomeHere began in 2016 as a nationwide social media campaign led by Temple University. It evolved from a viral hashtag to a scholarship given out by more than 50 U.S. colleges and universities in 2019.

Shoreline is the first, and so far only, two-year college to award the #YouAreWelcomeHere scholarship.

The initial #YouAreWelcomeHere initiative aimed to “send an unequivocal message to prospective students around the world that U.S. colleges and universities welcome them to our campuses,” said Samira Pardanani, Executive Director of International Education at Shoreline.

“It launched at a time when international students and their families were expressing increasing concern regarding both political rhetoric about immigrants as well as an increase in VISA denials,” Pardanani continued.

Shoreline President Dr. Cheryl Roberts embraced the campaign, and #YouAreWelcomeHere spread across campus: the College made pins, t-shirts, signage, and a video and even placed #YouAreWelcomeHere messages on facility trucks.

Temple University asked Shoreline to join Phase 2 of the campaign by creating a #YouAreWelcomeHere scholarship. Participating institutions would pledge scholarships for two international students that would pay 50% of their tuition for their entire program of study. Applicants were required to write an essay describing their commitment to promoting intercultural learning and exchange.

To Pardanani, amplifying the #YouAreWelcomeHere message by broadening it from a social media campaign to a scholarship was a win-win. 

“The scholarships would provide an opportunity for students who demonstrated commitment to building and enhancing cultural understanding,” said Pardanani. “By paying 50% of their tuition, I liked that we’d be meeting some exceptional students halfway.”

Pardanani worked with the Foundation Board and Mary Brueggeman, Vice President of the Office of Advancement and the Executive Director of the Foundation, to secure funding for the scholarships.

The two recipients, Atayeva and Musad, arrived on campus in September. 

“We had a reception for them and there were tears, smiles, and goosebumps as we listened to their stories,” Pardanani said. “Maral and Yara are exceptional students and hold so much promise. It truly feels like a happy ending, and a joyful beginning at the same time!”

Maral Atayeva is from Mary City, the capital city of the Mary Region of Turkmenistan. She came to Shoreline to study liberal arts and sciences. Yara Musad hails from the Republic of Sudan and plans to study psychology. The #YouAreWelcomeHere scholarship was integral to both students’ ability to study in the U.S. and at Shoreline.

“Getting a degree in the U.S. seemed impossible for me,” said Atayeva. “I was almost coping with the thought this is only going to be a dream, but with the help of my advisors, mentors, friends in my country, and of course, with the #YouAreWelcomeHere scholarship, I was able to accomplish my dream. I could not be happier; Shoreline is the place I wanted to be.”

“As a student here at Shoreline, I have a large amount of opportunities that will enable me to further explore my passion for the sciences,” said Musad. “Not only will I be able to broaden my horizons with the variety of classes provided, I’m also able to explore the vast number of clubs given by the institution.”

Tens of thousands of international students have found success by starting their U.S. education at Shoreline.

“We work one-on-one with students to get them from here to their dream college in the U.S.,” said Pardanani. “International students come here, find immense support as they get comfortable with our education system and living abroad, then go on to succeed at major four-year universities across the country.”

“Never would I think I would be greeted so warmly and offered that much help,” Atayeva said of her experience at Shoreline so far. “I love my professors, advisor, peers, and other staff at Shoreline. They really create an atmosphere of support. I was amazed that it is not only my associate degree that they are helping me with, but also support and help to plan my transferring options.”

“No matter how cliché it sounds, I would still advise other students to believe in their dream, work to accomplish it, and believe in the power of human support,” said Atayeva. “It is wonderful to think that you are cared for by people on the other side of the world who do not even know you. This is what I am experiencing everyday here in Shoreline and I, in fact, feel WELCOMED.”

Learn more about studying at Shoreline as an international student.


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