Help Asylum Seeker Finish Degree

*For reasons of safety, my friend and I are withholding specific details that might single them out or easily identify them in the country where they are seeking protection*

 

My friend is currently an asylum seeker in Europe on the grounds of being secular humanist and a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, and involved in activism within both groups

Until this June, they were a full-time Bachelor’s degree student of Bioengineering in the United States. During their time there, they had worked to complete two years of original research in a lab working on immunotherapy and protein engineering projects, specifically involving chimeric antigen receptors for cancer therapy, and development of a novel screening platform for protein engineering. Additionally, they were awarded multiple research grants on campus to continue this work, in addition to work in order to support themselves and a dependent sibling alongside their studies.

During their final term in college, my friend was unable to receive medical accommodation for a chronic health condition at the college and was physically incapable of completing a specific course component—resulting in an unprecedented F-1 visa (i.e. study visa) cancellation four days before graduation. Currently, they are only one course short of completing the structured Bachelor's degree they were pursuing at their previous university in the United States, and have successfully completed 141 semester hours towards the required 120 for a full Bachelor’s degree.

My friend fled their country of citizenship where they would face persecution, violence and death in the hands of radicalized religious militants as well as the police itself simply because of who they are; having fled a violent and abusive household, they do not have a temporary safe nest to fall back on either (despite this background, they graduated from a United World College (UWC) as part of the top 5% of scorers worldwide in the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma).

 As an international student, they had to abandon the formal degree unfinished in the wake of suspension of the U.S. refugee program and ask for asylum at the first safe border they could reach on transit with the first flight out they could afford.

Unfortunately, despite multiple attempts at making it work out in their present country as an asylum seeker, they are unable to access undergraduate education owing to the language barrier and lack of harmonization in cross-border credit recognition. The specific national framework there bars both asylum seekers and recognized refugees from obtaining state funding and loans for education. As of now, they cannot seek further education and access to further opportunities.

My friend is requesting help to continue their education and finish up the Bachelor's Degree program in Engineering (B.Sc.) at the Open University UK (www.openuniversity.edu/), which strives to provide meaningful, yet flexible distance learning culminating in an accredited degree and accepts previously-completed transfer credits. They are adamant about treating any help they may receive from you with endless gratitude.

The breakdown of the cost is ~$7,700 for tuition fees, with the additional $2,300  going towards books,  examination fees, and miscellaneous costs. 

A statement from my friend about their research and academic goals:

“Current accessible treatments and quality of life available to patients of heavy-burden diseases such as cancer and HIV is severely lacking, and disproportionately so in line with structural inequalities—a status quo I find devastatingly heartbreaking. With all your help, I plan to pursue further education and apply it towards research aiming to add years of a life well lived onto stories of the countless affected.

I have fought every single day for the past two decades for my access to education against death threats and daily assaults for simply attending school; that someone like me was relentlessly and competently pursuing further studies was nothing short of defiant rebellion against ignorant hatred. I kept fighting through college despite structural failures to be accepted into a Bioengineering M.Sc. Program; until the last day of my visa termination to complete my Immunoengineering thesis with an A; and through finding out I’m at a dead-end in terms of completing a BS degree in my current location. I continue to fight by brainstorming as many options as I humanly can while single-handedly building my legal case outline for asylum. Even though my current lack of mobility as an asylum seeker with diminished prospects comes up as nothing short of a dead-end, I am determined to start the construction work and build the road ahead of me where there isn’t one—I could just use some help pushing out a couple of bricks right now.

Like mold in wet heat, violence thrives and grows when festering amidst repressed scientific curiosity and silenced reasoning. For me to seek further education is to not only seek sanctuary in self while I seek sanctuary in state; it is moreover to seek my ability to provide sanctuary to the world as an antidote to brutal atrocities. I have survived them myself by seeking asylum in education to never once be turned away, and I hope that your generous support will help me prevent eviction from the only place I’ve always called home.”
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Organizer and beneficiary

Ruby Hopkins 
Organizer
Durango, CO
M P 
Beneficiary
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