Former refugee creates $10,000 scholarship for refugees and immigrants
Armir Harris, former refugee and Shofur founder and CEO, creates new scholarship for refugees and immigrants in the United States
Armir Harris came to the United States with his mom and sister when he was eight-years-old. A political refugee from Albania, Armir remembers how hard it was to start school in his new home.
“I remember being completely lost,” said Armir. “Socially, it was hard to fit in. I was picked on and I felt out of place a lot of the time.”
As a teenager, Armir taught himself to code so that he could help support his family. “It wasn’t just that I was interested,” said Armir. “I taught myself to code out of necessity, to help put food on the table.”
Today, Armir is the founder and CEO of Shofur, the partner company of GOGO Charter, a national transportation company that provides charter buses to many of the nation’s Fortune 400 companies. Shofur is a multi-million dollar enterprise.
Armir launched the new national scholarship for refugee and immigrant students because he wanted to empower refugee and immigrant youth to achieve their goals. “I want to give them hope, give them a boost.”
Education is an important value for many newcomer families but can also be a tremendous challenge as many refugee and immigrant students face interrupted educations.
Armir credits his success to his mother and sister and to his education. “My mother always emphasized education,” said Armir. “I had an incredible support team that encouraged me even if I didn’t do well, even if I failed a test or a class.”
Armir remembers how daunting the college application process can be for refugee students and their families. “It can really be a challenge for refugee students, especially those whose parents don’t speak English or haven’t navigated the process before.”
When Armir started college, he received financial aid. “Without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” said Armir.
“This is my way of paying it forward.”
There are limited national scholarship opportunities specifically for refugee and immigrant students.
Armir hopes GOGO Charter’s scholarship will help start a national movement of technology and other companies supporting newcomer students, students who bring many assets to communities and schools. “Newcomer students bring strengths to our schools. There is strength in diversity, in bringing different cultures together,” said Armir. Over time, he hopes to increase the amount of the scholarship and the number of scholarships offered.
Armir himself serves a role model to refugee and immigrant youth across the country.
Felix, a 17-year-old refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo said he is already planning to apply when he graduates next year. “Seeing Armir and knowing there are opportunities like this scholarship make me believe I can succeed,” said Felix.
Armir’s advice to newcomer students is simple but powerful: “Work hard, study hard. You might not see the results at first, but you will eventually.”
And for those who want to apply for the scholarship?
“Apply to this and to as many other opportunities as you can find. Put in the effort and you can do more than you ever thought.”
To Apply for the Scholarship for refugees and immigrants
The scholarship is open to any refugee, immigrant or first-generation student graduating from high school this year.
Students must have at least a 3.4 GPA. Students must apply online by July 5, 2017. At least one scholarship will be awarded for the 2017-2018 school year.
The Refugee Center Online – Are you a refugee or immigrant who wants to finish your high school education?
Start learning today with the Refugee Center Online’s free GED preparation class, available in English, Arabic, and Spanish, including a dual language format so you can learn in English and your language at the same time.