former FEATURED SCHOLARS: ASHLEY PERALTA                                                                           & HUSSEIN AL-OGAIDI

Reisher Scholar Alumna Ashley Peralta
University of Colorado Denver

“Let your true self shine through”

Reisher Scholars Program alumna Ashley Peralta has big dreams and has never been one to let anything stop her from reaching them. Originally from Southern California, Ashley and her family moved to Colorado in pursuit of better opportunities for her younger brother, Shawn, who has developmental disabilities. 

Growing up, Ashley’s parents instilled in her the value of education, the importance of acceptance and compassion for all people and hard work. Ashley always knew that she would pursue higher education and she enrolled at the University of Colorado Denver (UCD) and started looking in to scholarships to help her achieve her dream of earning a Bachelor’s degree. Ashley became a Reisher Scholar prior to the start of her sophomore year at UCD.

During her time as a Reisher Scholar, Ashley served at UCD’s Peer Advocate for the program. When reflecting on her Peer Advocate experience, Ashley said, “I wasn’t sure I would be good at it, but I quickly became confident in the person I am. Serving as a Peer Advocate allowed me to master the art of multi-tasking and taught me how to have a voice in making decisions.” Ashley said, “We have a diverse community here in Denver and being a Reisher Scholar made me want to educate other students about scholarships and to get more involved in my community.” As a result of being a Reisher Scholar, hard work and dedication, Ashley graduated from college debt-free.

When asked who inspires her, Ashley said, “My younger brother Shawn. Due to his disabilities, he will never be able to accomplish as much as I have the potential to, so I am striving to be the best I can be in order to help other families with children that have disabilities. I want make sure Shawn and I are set when we are older. I will be able to do this because, thanks to The Reisher Scholars Program, I played things smart when I was young.”

Ashley didn’t stop at earning her Bachelor’s degree. During Fall 2016 she began graduate school at UCD’s School of Education and Human Development, working toward a degree in Early Childhood Education and licensure in Early Childhood Special Education.

          Reisher Scholar Hussein AL-Ogaidi
          Metropolitan State University of Denver

            “The Reisher Scholars Program opened a door to my future” 

Originally from Iraq, and having lived in Syria, stability and safety have not always been luxuries that Reisher Scholar Hussein AL-Ogaidi has had the benefit of enjoying. As a refugee who fled his war-torn country in 2013, Hussein is the first in his family to attend college in the United States. Hussein acknowledges that without the support of his family, his mentor Dr. Martin and the Reisher Scholars Program, he would not be able to pursue his passion.

A chemistry major at Metropolitan State University of Denver, Hussein would ultimately like to attend medical school to become a Cardiologist so he can return to his country to provide medical support to his people. When reflecting on his experience in Iraq Hussein mentioned, “I do not want anyone to feel what I felt in the war…our hearts are always there.”

While living in the United States Hussein has connected with the Denver community and serves as a math and chemistry tutor at MSU’s Tutoring Center. Hussein, his parents, and his wife are also recipients of a Habitat for Humanity home, after qualifying and each logging 200 hours toward the construction of their new house. Step by step, Hussein is creating a stable and secure life for himself and his family in the United States. While Hussein’s journey has been far from easy, he imparts optimism on all he encounters, “…nothing is impossible…be patient, work hard and step by step you will get to what you want.”

Click here to read about Megan Lundstrom, Student at the University of Northern Colorado in the Summer 2016 issue of Give Magazine.