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Morgridge College of Education

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What is the power of community? What is its purpose? At Morgridge, we have perpetual gratitude for our community – giving thanks to donors for their support of our students’ educational pursuits; celebrating our alumni for their accomplishments, mentoring others, and being agents of change; and recognizing the amazing contributions of our students, faculty, and staff. Today, it is difficult to find words of thanks meaningful enough. Our community has rallied together and, against so many odds and obstacles, helped to save the lives of one of our doctoral students and their family.

Abdul* is a beloved son, brother, husband, uncle, and father. He is also seeking a doctoral degree from Morgridge. During his years at MCE, he has built life-long bonds with peers, staff and faculty alike. As an international student, he has endured the challenge of being separated from his loved ones. The knowledge that his hard work, scholarly pursuits, and – ultimately – his doctorate would help him to make positive impacts made it possible to get through this separation. That was, at least, until his mother contracted Covid-19.

When the devastating news of his mother’s passing reached Abdul, he did what any child might: go home.  His home was Afghanistan.

Soon after returning to his country of origin, the situation devolved rapidly. As we watched harrowing stories of families trying to escape unimageable violence from the safety of our offices and living rooms, Abdul and his family were living the situation’s horrors. While so many of us felt powerless against the tragedies unfolding, the MCE community refused to accept that Abdul – and his family of 6 – would become part of a grim and growing statistic.

Dr. Kristina Hesbol, Associate Professor in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) and Founding Director of the Center for Innovative Rural Collaborative Leadership Education (CIRCLE), lobbied day and night on Abdul’s behalf. She contacted congress people and other government officials, reached out to networks known and new, and relentlessly tried to find help – to find hope – for Abdul. She was not alone in her efforts. Dr. Stephen Fusco (ELPS Ph.D., 2021), a special education advocate and attorney, and Dr. Sarah Bridich (ELPS Ph.D., 2013) took on the task of trying to ensure that Abdul and his family would have resources if they were, somehow, able to get to the United States. Bill and Gabrielle*, friends of MCE, agreed to open their home to Abdul and his family. Volunteers from throughout the MCE and Denver metro communities rose to help prepare a secure space for them to take refuge.

And then, it happened. We got the call that Abdul and his family were at a military base far away from Kabul. They were out of Afghanistan. They were safe. Only days later, we found out that they were en route to Denver – on their way to their new home.

We are beyond thankful to everyone who has helped Abdul and his family. MCE, you are the power of community. And you are its purpose. We – humans bound together by our values and hope – can make real and meaningful impacts. We can be forces for positive change. When we act together, intentionally, and with equity and inclusivity in mind, anything is possible.

Thank you, Morgridge community.

Ways to Help

The global Red Cross and Red Crescent networks are helping evacuees on military bases. Volunteers are equipping those in need with essential items including baby bottles, face masks, towels, and sanitizer.

Editor’s Notes:

* In order to protect the safety of individuals involved, names and other identifiable information have been altered.

The Morgridge College of Education does not endorse any specific international or domestic aid agency or fundraising platform. Any resources provided are for informational purposes.