When Angela Uzeir took the job as a server at a gathering at Iram Shah’s house, she didn’t expect to be offered the opportunity of a lifetime by the end of her late night shift — the opportunity to get educated and pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a nurse.
Angela was born in Albania in the midst of poverty. Her family fled to Greece during the time of the 1997 Albanian Civil War in 1997 and worked as farmers to make ends meet. Due to poor living conditions, Angela had to grow up in an orphanage away from family. When she moved to the United States in 2016, she didn’t qualify for loans. Angela worked long, difficult hours as a server to save up money, so she could build a better future for herself. Attending college seemed far fetched until that fateful evening at Iram’s house — hosted ironically in honor of her daughter, Sonia Shah’s vision to educate undeserved women.
After three years of hard work and with the help of Sonia Shah Organization’s Scholarship Recipient program, Angela walked the graduation stage on June 21 at East West University in Chicago with an associate degree in Biology, making her the first of her family to attend and graduate from college. She is also set to begin nursing school in January, 2020.
“For any girl education is important because it can give you an honorable life,” Angela said. “It can get you away from being a victim nowadays and being educated makes you independent …. it gives you an unconditional power.”
Sonia Shah, a young visionary, lost her life before she could attend college herself or live out her dream of educating young girls in impoverished countries. But what came of her vision — Sonia Shah Organization — provides education to not only 200 students in Pakistan but also empowers young women by granting scholarships to financially deserving girls in the U.S. — those like Angela. It is true what they say — it takes a village to raise a child, but in Angela’s case, it took an army of women.
“One day I want to pay back because [Sonia Shah Organization] really helped me to be the person I am today.” Angela is Sonia too.