More than 70.8 million people around the world have been forced from their homes by violence, persecution, and other human rights violations. Almost 26 million of these individuals are classified as refugees by the United Nations. Only three percent of them will ever enroll in a college or university.

To address this crisis, Columbia University announced a Scholarship for Displaced Students in 2019.

In fall 2020, Columbia welcomed a new cohort of 18 students who were forced to leave their home country because of war, political oppression, or other reasons related to hardship. The students were awarded full scholarships to attend the Columbia school of their choice. This year’s winners are originally from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Haiti, Nepal, Nigeria, South Sudan, Syria, Turkey, and Venezuela. 

Each student has made a unique journey to this moment, overcome tremendous adversity, and will leverage their Columbia education to give back to their communities and to the world.

We’re proud to welcome two of these scholarship recipients to the SIPA community this fall: Asaad Hanna MIA ’22 and Erick Rozo MPA-DP ’22.

Asaad Hanna MIA ’22

Asaad Hanna is a strategic analyst and media adviser who focuses on humanitarian causes in Syria and the Middle East as well as high-conflict and crisis regions from Iran to Haiti. 

Asaad is a MIA candidate concentrating in International Security Policy. He is a programs manager with the Washington-based Syrian Emergency Task Force, which works on human rights and genocide prevention, and a strategic adviser for the Lobo Institute, which working on disarming children and de-radicalization. Asaad also served in the office of the chairman of the White Helmets, supporting the chairman’s work in strategy, fundraising, and messaging, and the organization’s communications with donors and international outreach. He previously worked with international media outlets and think tanks, as a political officer with the Syrian opposition, and as a media adviser for the High Negotiations Committee in Geneva. Asaad studied economics and specialized in accounting prior to the war.

In 2019 Asaad started his company in the United States called EmissaLLC, providing consultancy to different companies and organizations and governments striving to improve their work in the Middle East. 

Erick Rozo MPA-DP ’22

Erick Rozo is an MPA in Development Practice candidate from Venezuela. He holds a BA in international affairs from Universidad Central de Venezuela, a certificate in social public policy for youth from the Organization of American States (OAS-FLACSO), and a certificate on empowerment and civic engagement from the University of Texas at San Antonio. He worked in the sales division of private wealth management in New York for over three years. 

Erick is also an organizer for the Venezuelan diaspora in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, where he has been connecting and acting as a liaison for diverse initiatives, including demonstrations and forums to raise awareness on the Venezuelan emergency. He is a founder of the Venezuelan political party Voluntad Popular and serves on the Steering Committee for Young Professionals of the Americas at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. 

Learn more about applying for the Columbia University Scholarship for Displaced Students.