VSAC receives $50,000 to support Afghan refugees

WINOOSKI — The Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) has been awarded $50,000 from the State Refugee Office of the Vermont Agency of Human Services to serve people from Afghanistan who immigrate to Vermont.

The funding, which will run through VSAC's Educational Opportunity Center (EOC), will enable VSAC to counsel Afghans on education and careers, as well as travel, materials, translation, and interpretation.

Hundreds of Afghans moved to Vermont in 2022 and 2023. "Vermont continues to welcome refugees from across the globe who have become valued members of our communities. Vermont has had a vibrant refugee resettlement community and infrastructure for decades. With this grant, we will be able to deepen our work with the Afghan community to help them define a path to their continuing education, training interests, or career aspirations," said VSAC President Scott Giles in a news release.

Many of the people from Afghanistan who arrive in Vermont have a strong academic background and have worked closely with the United States military while in their home country. Others' educational journeys have been interrupted due to ongoing violence or because they identify as women. The grant will enable VSAC to further support Afghans in charting a course to leverage the opportunities here. Examples of these opportunities are career counseling, learning to drive, and passing prerequisites necessary for a medical career.

VSAC's EOC program helps adults access learning opportunities, including classes, certification, career training, and college programs. Whether new to the process, returning to school, or avid, lifelong learners, many people may receive help in planning their career paths and exploring education options, getting financial aid to pay for college or career training, or setting themselves up for success in school.

"I would definitely encourage students to use VSAC's programs. I have helped connect a number of friends to VSAC's EOC. It's super helpful; it's a great thing to do," said Wazir Hashimi, co-founder and board president of the Vermont Afghan Alliance.

Afghans who are interested in meeting with an VSAC EOC Counselor may call 877-961-4369 to schedule a free appointment.

This Special section item was submitted to The Commons.

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