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Safia Reazi: Scholarship Spotlight

The financial struggle of pursuing education is a reality for so many, including myself

Safia Reazi had long wanted to join the engineering field but, upon graduation from high school, her financial situation was tenuous. She was not sure she would be able to continue on to college without taking some time off, and such a move could quite likely have derailed her plans completely.

According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, only six percent of students who took a year or more off after high school earned a bachelor’s degree by the time they were 25 to 26 years old.

But Safia was determined. She applied for the Ventura College Promise Grant and it paid for her first year in college. While in her first year, Safia applied to the Ventura College Foundation Scholarship Program – the first scholarship she applied for - to which she was selected for award.

Safia Reazi

“The financial struggle of pursuing education is a reality for so many, including myself,” she says. “When I got the letter that I had received the scholarship, I was beyond ecstatic. Knowing that I didn’t have to worry about tuition or how I was going to buy my books or other class materials was an immense burden that had been removed and as a result allowed me to immediately focus on trying to excel in my classes.”

The scholarship proved to be just the jump-start she needed. Safia has completed three years at Ventura College, in her words, relatively quickly and relatively stress-free.

“The scholarship has renewed my drive to complete my higher education and pursue my degree in engineering,” she adds.

Being a woman in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field has its challenges, Safia says.

“Seeing the paucity of female students in my classes made me realize that the path to be an engineer, for women in particular, is uniquely arduous,” she observes. “It can feel intimidating and uncomfortable.”

However, the Promise Grant and scholarship award offered her more than merely monetary support; it also provided her with a path to emotional encouragement.

“When I attended the scholarship luncheon, I met so many of the generous donors who put their faith into students like me, and in that moment I realized that complete strangers had believed in my aspirations,” Safia says. “They believed that I could attain my goals and succeed, which has given me the confidence to move forward and accomplish my dreams.”

Safia aspired to a degree in engineering as a means to better understand the world.

“Science and math excite me, but truthfully these are secondary to the opportunities that higher education will provide to do good —this drives me,” Safia says. “I am thrilled to see what the future has in store for me.”