For DonorsFor Applicants

Imagine Dragons Awards $12,000 “Origins” Scholarship to Refugee Students

Imagine Dragons awards four refugee students $3,000 each toward their education as part of the band’s ongoing efforts to support refugees and immigrants

November 22, 2021

The Imagine Dragons scholarship winners react to some surprise news from the band

SAN FRANCISCO (November 22, 2021) – Today, Grammy-winning band, Imagine Dragons, announces the winners of the Imagine Dragons "Origins" Scholarship. The $12,000 scholarship was created in March 2021 to support first-generation, immigrant and refugee students in the US. Each recipient will each receive $3,000 toward their education.

The scholarship winners come from all around the world. In their applications, the winners shared their powerful stories about the hardships they have faced as refugees. Israel Balikolo, wrote about the painful living conditions at the ​​Congo-Brazzaville refugee camp. She detailed how her family often lived without food and faced life-threatening illnesses like malaria. Trishna Dahal, who was born in a refugee camp in Nepal, and Hiniye Madelaine, who was born in a refugee camp in Tanzania, wrote about overcoming the expectations of women in their cultures. The cultural pressures of becoming housewives meant they would have to put education on the backburner. When they moved to America, both fought to overcome the pre-set roles that their previous cultures expected of them; they were able to unlock their dreams and pursue what they wanted for their lives.

Although the various obstacles could have easily hindered the scholarship winners from getting an education, they used their tribulations as motivation to go to school. The winners have inspiring goals for their education — from pursuing medical school to studying computer science. “I remember telling myself that I was privileged enough to make it out of those circumstances, and I know many people who never made it out, so I had to make something out of my life,” Israel wrote in her application. For Trishna, she hopes to study computer science. She aspires to mentor young girls and people of color to increase diversity in STEM, and she hopes to help refugees and immigrants destigmatize mental health in their families. Hiniye has equally ambitious future plans to become an immigration or criminal justice lawyer. She shared in her essay, “My goal is to fight for justice and to help those who feel helpless or voiceless find their path.” Hiniye also plans to do community service through the Fulbright program and eventually return to her home country to empower young girls and teach them english.

Imagine Dragons Says: “We were blown away by all the inspiring refugees and immigrants who applied for this scholarship, and it reminded us just how great the need for supporting these students is. It was an honor to celebrate and help our winners.”
Scholarship recipient Hiniye Madelaine (Tanzania & ​​Richmond, VA) says: “This award came at the perfect time for me; I was trying to find the money to pay for a class I'll be attending next semester, and receiving this grant was quite beneficial. Trying to graduate with minimal loans, while working full-time can sometimes force hard choices and this funding made it easier to focus on my studies and build on my successful academic record. THANK YOU!”
Scholarship recipient Israel Balikolo (Congo-Brazzaville & Phoenix, AZ) says: “This scholarship helps to relieve me of the financial burden that comes with attending university. Now the load that I have to carry is a lot lighter, and I can solely focus on my education without having to worry about the financial aspect of college. I plan on using this scholarship towards my fall semester, and I will be taking winter courses that my financial aid does not cover, along with text books for my courses.”
Scholarship recipient Trishna Dahal (Nepal & Louisville, KY), says: “I’m so grateful to have won this scholarship, I feel like I’m one step closer to achieving my dreams. I’m hoping to use the money to earn a computer science degree, and maybe one day I can create scholarships to help other women and minorities pursuing STEM careers.”

The scholarship’s inspiration came from the band’s experience performing in countless countries spanning all languages. Imagine Dragons has seen the various educational and financial challenges that immigrants, refugees and first-generation families encounter, and the “Origins” scholarship is another way that the band can support. Imagine Dragons is part of a robust list of public figures who make a point of supporting education. scholarship sponsors include NBA stars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Jae’Sean Tate and Tyrell Terry, professional tennis player Sloane Stephens, producer and DJ 3LAU, NFL players JuJu Smith-Schuster and Brandon Zylstra, NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace, professional MMA fighter Cat Zingano, actor Terry Crews, singer songwriter Clario, actress Jameela Jamil and more.