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Ridha speaks at Sesame Workshop gala

Big Bird, Sherrie Westin, and Ridha on stage during Sesame Workshop gala

Ridha, joined on stage by Big Bird and Sherrie Westin, Sesame Workshop's EVP of Philanthropy, speaks at Sesame Workshop's 15th annual fundraising gala.

Photo: Courtesy of Sesame Workshop

On Wednesday, May 31st, Ridha, a 17-year old Iraqi refugee resettled in Salt Lake City alongside his two brothers and parents, described his experience and the support of the IRC at Sesame Workshop’s 15th annual benefit gala:

“Thanks to the IRC and the college readiness youth program, I have hope for the future. I am about to be a senior in high school and hope to become an architect after I finish college. This summer I was invited by Harvard [University] to the Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders program, an opportunity I would not have without the IRC’s help.”

Ridha shared the stage with the IRC's President & CEO, David Miliband, who received the Joan Ganz Cooney Award from Sherrie Westin, Sesame Workshop’s EVP of Philanthropy, on behalf of the IRC for “our dedication to changing the lives of displaced children around the globe.”

Big Bird, David Miliband, Sherrie Westin, and Ridha pose during award ceremony at Sesame Workshop Gala

David Miliband, the IRC's President & CEO, accepts the Joan Ganz Cooney Award from Sherrie Westin, Sesame Workshop's EVP of Philanthropy. They were joined by Big Bird and Ridha on stage.

Photo: Courtesy of Sesame Workshop

Ridha has accomplished many things over the past two years in Salt Lake City. Through our education program, Ridha worked with a volunteer in-home tutor who assisted with his chemistry studies. Additionally, he participated in the College Pathways program where he was paired and mentored by an Iraqi college student. Ridha, described as “driven, mature and dedicated,” took advantage of these opportunities and more.

We look forward to sharing more about Ridha’s experience at the Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders in Boston, MA later this year. We are proud of his accomplishments and know that his efforts, coupled with the efforts of IRC volunteers and staff, will lead to a brighter future for Ridha and his family.

You can learn more about our Education Program and ways to get involved by emailing VolunteerSLC [at] Rescue.org.