The Western Union Foundation is excited to announce that Zonera Nasir has been awarded Western Union’s most prestigious annual scholarship: the CEO Scholarship. Devin McGranahan, Western Union’s CEO, personally presented Zonera with the award and recognized her academic success, perseverance through challenges, and aspirations for a future in technology as being key reasons for her selection.
“Zonera is a role model to people who aspire to more, and for people who cross boundaries in pursuit of their dreams,” said Devin McGranahan. “I am excited to recognize Zonera with our Western Union CEO scholarship worth $20,000, and very proud to have her represent Western Union and our Foundation.”
“This scholarship means everything. To get this kind of financial relief has really taken the burden off my shoulders and allowed me to focus on my studies,” said Zonera Nasir.
Zonera’s journey to where she is today has not been easy. “I grew up as part of a low-income immigrant family in Saudi Arabia,” Zonera shared. “When I was six years old, I was diagnosed with juvenile onset diabetes. Dealing with diabetes made me question if I would always be dependent on someone else.”
Despite her medical challenges, Zonera focused on school and always aspired for bigger things – especially a college education. “I have always been ambitious and knew from an early age that I wanted to study computer science. Going to college in the United States became a big dream of mine,” said Zonera.
Zonera’s dream came true when she was accepted into Metropolitan State University of Denver and became the first woman in her family to attend college. Unfortunately, more challenges soon followed. “When I moved to the United States life seemed amazing… until one night I ended up in ER with massive abdominal pain. I went through a major surgery and stayed in and out of the hospital for about 6 months.”
Since then, Zonera has been working hard to keep up with her studies, pay off her medical debt, and reach her goal of graduating with a computer science degree. “As an international student, I can only work on campus up to 20 hours a week and it’s minimum wage. It’s hard with all the bills that I have to pay in order to keep myself alive and pay my tuition. Especially international student tuition, which is three times more than in-state.”
Zonera is thrilled to be Western Union’s 2022-2023 CEO Scholar and is grateful for the financial support this scholarship is providing. “I went from feeling like I’m always losing the battle with life, to finally winning something. This scholarship has given me the confidence that no matter what I’ve been through, I’m still capable of achieving big things.”