People of PTK: Omer Azizi

From the age of three, Omer Azizi grew up in refugee camps in Afghanistan. He even survived a rocket attack that destroyed his entire neighborhood when he was seven.

Schools were closed because of the Taliban rule, but Omer found and read his father’s hidden history books and began to develop a passion for education and the difference it can make in the lives of individuals. His career goal is to establish an education-focused non-profit organization to benefit children in war zones.

“The books expanded my mindset beyond the limitations, war and trauma around me,” he said.

Now a permanent resident after coming to the U.S. in 2014, Omer still describes his life as “a marathon of hurdles.”

He worked day and night to learn English and became the first in his family to attend college.

Omer has been his family’s sole provider since he was 15.

Although he struggles to work, attend Mira Costa College and care for his father, he has earned a 3.68 grade point average, received the President’s Volunteer Service Award, and was recognized for his research and contributions to the book “Return to the Little Coffee Shop of Kabul” by Debbie Rodriguez. He also received a Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship and was named a member of the All-California Community College Academic Team.

But, he hit an additional stumbling block recently when his father was diagnosed with a chronic illness and Medicaid didn’t cover the cost of the extremely expensive medication he was prescribed.

Even though Omer managed to persuade the pharmaceutical company to provide the drug at a lower cost, his family was plagued by out-of-pocket medical expenses.

“Amid the dark clouds, I searched for a silver lining,” he said.

Thankfully for Omer, that silver lining came in the form of a $1,000 Lifeline to Completion scholarship from Phi Theta Kappa.

“Your scholarship helped me with my financial burden, and encourages me to continue with my full-time education while having to work less,” he said.

The Oberndorf Lifeline to Completion Scholarship gives financial aid to students who have been faced with an unanticipated financial barrier that could keep them from completing their degree or certificate. Up to 15 scholarships of $1,000 each are awarded annually.

The scholarship was established by Rosemary and Lou Oberndorf in partnership with Phi Theta Kappa’s 2011-2012 International Officer Team.

Learn more about the most recent Oberndorf Scholars online.

Applications for the Oberndorf Lifeline to Completion Scholarship are being accepted now through May 2. Apply today.

Phi Theta Kappa’s Spring Scholarship Application is also now open and gives members the opportunity to apply for more than $250,000. The application closes May 2.

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