St. Olaf College | News

St. Olaf student awarded Rotary Global Grant Scholarship

WakilMirwais450x350St. Olaf College student Mirwais Wakil ’15 has received a Rotary Global Grant Scholarship that will help him pursue a graduate degree at either Oxford University or the London School of Economics.

The $30,000 award from Rotary International supports graduate-level studies related to the organization’s focus on humanitarian issues. Wakil will use the scholarship to pursue either a master’s degree in international relations at the London School of Economics or a master’s degree in refugees and forced migration at Oxford.

“I will also be interning with organizations such as Refugee Resource or Oxfam to help contribute to development and refugee assistance,” Wakil says.

Before enrolling in one of the two graduate programs in the fall of 2016, Wakil will spend a year in Vienna, Austria, working with an organization he co-founded called Ready Power.

Ready Power employs immigrants and refugees and helps them better integrate into Austrian society. Employees and their families also receive advice and help with their legal cases, government paperwork, and education. Wakil helped establish the organization three years ago and continued to work on it throughout his St. Olaf career.

In addition to his work with Ready Power, Wakil hopes to be involved over the next year with ORS Service, an Austrian organization that houses refugees before they receive asylum. He also plans to volunteer with the United World Colleges (UWC) National Committee of Austria.

A native of Afghanistan, Wakil moved to Austria at age 15, where one of his teachers suggested that the United World Colleges — international baccalaureate high schools that educate students in an environment of shared learning, collaboration, and international understanding to promote positive social action and build a more equitable and peaceful world — would be a good fit for him.

He attended the UWC in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, before coming to St. Olaf as a Davis UWC Scholar.

At St. Olaf, Wakil majored in studio art, political science, and economics, and was a member of Pi Sigma Alpha. He earned a Magnus the Good Fellowship to support his work on a project that re-examined international relations through the eyes of individuals affected by war, power, statecraft, and international law.

Wakil was a Nobel Peace Prize Scholar at the University of Oslo, where he researched peace and reconciliation regarding the ex-Yugoslavian countries with the Nansen Dialogue Center.

He also participated in Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School Junior Summer Institute. The institute is part of the Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship Program, a national consortium of the top public policy and international affairs graduate schools that prepare college juniors for advanced degrees and careers serving the public good.

After he completes his graduate program in England, Wakil would like to work with the International Committee of the Red Cross or the United Nations Refugee Agency.

“I hope to help improve the life quality of refugees and ensure their protection in conflict zones,” he says.