former FEATURED SCHOLARS: ashley peralta, hussein al-ogaidi & zaynib hassan

Reisher Scholar Zaynib Hassan
University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS)

“My potential is only limited by the boundaries I set for myself”

University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) Reisher Scholar Zaynib Hassan has never been one to let life’s obstacles or challenges keep her from reaching her goals. Born and raised in Colorado, May 2017 marks a special time for Zaynib as she will be the first in her family to graduate from a 4-year university. Zaynib became a Reisher Scholar in 2014 and serves as UCCS’ Reisher Peer Advocate. She has excelled in her role and has been able to start to see her own potential for achievement. Zaynib says, “The Reisher Scholarship has [not only] allowed me to finish my bachelor’s degree but it has granted me the opportunity to meet amazing people, cultivate my strengths and improve upon my weaknesses, participate in unique experiences, and strive to meet my potential as an individual and contributing member of society.”

When Zaynib was a senior in high school she and her family endured personal tragedy when her father passed away from cancer after a two-year struggle. As a result of losing her father, and the glimpse into the medical field that she gained while he was sick, Zaynib made the decision to pursue a career in medicine so that she can be an advocate for patients. A Biology-Biomedical Sciences major, with a minor in Business Management, after she graduates from UCCS, Zaynib plans to attend The University of Colorado Anschutz to study Pharmacy in Fall 2017.

Zaynib attributes her success to the example her parents set and the support and encouragement she has continually received from her family. From a young age she was inspired by her parents’ willingness to always lend a hand and show kindness and compassion for others. As a result, throughout all of her professional and personal endeavors, Zaynib prides herself on maintaining strong relationships and personal character. During her time as a Reisher Scholar, Zaynib noted that the most important lesson she has learned is that balance is more important than perfection, “I have learned how to apply excellence to every priority I have while still tending to each of my very diverse interests and obligations…I never want my feet to leave the ground for the wrong reasons.”

Theme songWhat do I know  by Ed Sheeran
Favorite food: Potatoes (except the sweet ones)
Favorite quote: “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
Favorite Author: J.K. Rowling 
Favorite place you’ve traveled to: Stateside: Washington (state) Abroad: London


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.