Zaid Al Yasiri loves America and Colorado in particular. Originally from Iraq, he was hopeful after the fall of Saddam Hussein, but then Al Qaida arrived, and his world changed again. Zaid’s brother had worked for the U.S. in the Green Zone, and this put a target on his back. A letter arrived with two bullets in it – one meant for his brother, the other for Zaid. His family moved, but the threats soon followed. He finished high school in Jordan and after six years of work secured a visa that brought him to the U.S. on his own.
“I came to Colorado because I had a friend here, but then he moved,” Zaid explains. “I also chose it because it was safe, and the people are friendly.” He received his Green Card while working at a VA hospital and earned his associate degree at a community college. Enamored with computers since he was a child, he now wants to use them to stop terrorism by focusing on cybersecurity. “I’m not in it for money,” he says. “I want to stop attacks by stopping terrorists from getting funding.”
Having no past experience with financial aid, Zaid applied for and received a scholarship. “It was a great moment,” he explains. “But it was also a load on my shoulders to prove that they were right to choose me.” Not only has Zaid remain fully committed to succeed at CU Denver, he also benefits from the social network his scholarship facilitates. “We are a community of people. We have study groups and de-stress events,” he says of his cohort of recipients.
Zaid says his scholarship will allow him to graduate on time, “because time is critical.” He also credits the scholarship with changing his life yet again, and he is filled with appreciation to the donors who made it possible. “You have made my dreams and the dreams of my parents come true,” he says. “Whatever I could do to thank you still wouldn’t be enough.”