PapiaWhen Papia immigrated to the United States in 2015, who would have imagined that in just a few year’s time she’d be on her way to college? Coming from Bangladesh, she had only a basic command of the English language.  Her father had passed away five years earlier, and so she migrated with her mother, as well as her sister, brother-in-law, and their new baby.

Papia immediately immersed herself in learning English and focused on her general studies. And by all accounts she excelled—both academically and in bettering life for others. With a 3.98 grade point average, she was inducted into the National Honor Society, where she participated in community service activities. Along with two other juniors, she organized a successful park clean-up project during her school’s community day. And she tutored several students in math and science. When Papia noticed that immigrants in her school were finding it difficult to adapt to their new culture, she helped organize opportunities to form bridges between her fellow immigrant students and the American-born students in her school. Outside of school, she held an internship at Virginia Tech’s Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability, and did part-time restaurant work to help pay her family’s bills.

The Dream Project’s Mentoring Program was very helpful as Papia worked through the college application process. Always giving back to the community, she participated in Dream Project activities to fund scholarships for other students.

All of this hard work, commitment, and leadership paid off. In fall 2017, Papia began studying at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Her college career began with a bang—in her first semester she earned straight A’s, was named to the president’s list, and was initiated into Phi Eta Sigma, the oldest and largest freshman honor society in the country—all while working part time. Her goal is to someday become the Chief Financial Officer of a large company.  Given all the dreams she has already realized, this one does not seem so far fetched.