When Roger and Sara Boyer became aware of the number of highly motivated, qualified, and capable refugees in Utah who had been turned down in their efforts to gain admission to college, they wanted to help. Of the state’s approximately 60,000 refugees, those who want to attend college have the same set of challenges experienced by all prospective higher education students—increasing tuition costs, student debt, and an ever more competitive environment. But they also have additional burdens—language barriers, culture shock, painful pasts, and the current political climate—that make their challenges especially daunting.
After studying the situation, the Boyers decided they could do the most good by identifying the gaps in services for refugees and then finding a way to fill those gaps. In January 2014 they established One Refugee, a private foundation, to do just that. One Refugee provides financial assistance to Utah refugees who are prepared and ready to succeed in college and then partners with the University of Utah and Salt Lake Community College on the admissions process. The goal is graduation and successful transition into a meaningful career. One Refugee covers pretty much anything the student needs—from tuition, textbooks, computers, and tutoring, to citizenship fees, prescription eyeglasses, and dental services.
“When we started in 2014, we hoped to get 100 enrolled, and after four years, we have assisted a combined total of more than 300 from both schools,” says Roger, who is a U alum and chairman of The Boyer Company, one of the largest full-service real estate development firms in the Western U.S. He and Sara are committed to funding this program long-term. “Our education initiative is not a standard scholarship program where we just write checks to cover tuition,” says Roger. “Our program is holistic and we work with all students one-on-one to assist them with their needs.” Sara adds, “We have loved getting to know the students and their stories. We see them at least twice a year and this has been incredibly rewarding for Roger and me.”
In early 2017, the Boyers realized that earning a diploma wasn’t enough to ensure a successful future, so One Refugee partnered with the O.C. Tanner Company and added a robust careers initiative designed to assist students in their employment pursuits after graduation, creating a seamless path through college and into a career.
The One Refugee partnership with the U is just one example of the Boyers’s loyal support of campus. For the past four decades, they have enriched areas including athletics, the David Eccles School of Business, and the School of Medicine, to name just a few. Their thoughtful support for refugee students is especially appreciated at this time when that population is dealing with so much uncertainty.
“We wanted to give back to the community in a concentrated way,” says Roger. “We know that education is the best pathway forward for all individuals, and refugees are a particularly vulnerable population. Without education and training opportunities, they are at risk for generational poverty. We saw the One Refugee program as a possible intervention.”
Art Museum Reimagined
Visitors to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts at the University of Utah were wowed by revamped galleries and thoughtfully reimagined public spaces when the museum reopened this fall after a temporary closure for replacement of the museum’s vapor barrier, essential for protecting the building that protects the art. The 19-month project, the first major […]Learn More
Nature All Around Us—A Wild Idea
Last fall, the Natural History Museum of Utah announced a wild idea—an ambitious initiative called Nature All Around Us to encourage Utah residents to explore and record the nature in their own neighborhoods. As part of the project, the museum will develop an in-house special exhibition and a variety of citizen science programs across the […]Learn More
Gary and Ann Crocker Science Center Opens
With much fanfare, University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins, former U President David W. Pershing, and College of Science Dean Henry S. White hosted on April 20 the long-awaited ribbon-cutting celebration to mark the dedication of the spectacular new Gary and Ann Crocker Science Center. Located within the George Thomas Building on Presidents Circle, […]Learn More
Opening of Cleone Peterson Eccles Alumni House
In the words of University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins, less than three weeks after officially taking office: “What a fantastic way to start a presidency!” Thanks to a $4 million lead gift from the Spencer F. and Cleone P. Eccles Family and the added generosity of many alumni and friends, President Watkins joined […]Learn More
Childhood Friendship Results in Social Work Scholarship
The two 15-year-olds stand on the grounds of their new school staring at the camera, anxious as they contemplate what awaits them at Culver Military Academy. It is their first day at the college prep school in Indiana. They have just donned their uniforms and have yet to learn how to properly stand at attention. […]Learn More
Yanik Scholarship Supports Sigma Nu Students
It was Christmas Eve in the mid-1960s. Winter quarter at the U had ended two weeks earlier and U alum Boyce Yanik and his Sigma Nu fraternity brothers had celebrated the holidays with their Christmas formal and a Sub for Santa Party for a family of 12 children, organized by The Salt Lake Tribune for those […]Learn More
Jon M. Huntsman Presidential Chairs
The University of Utah and the Huntsman Family Foundation announced, on June 19, the creation of twelve presidential faculty chairs in health sciences. The Jon M. Huntsman Presidential Chairs provide sweeping support to academic researchers, educators, and clinicians spanning a wide array of fields. The presidential chairs are named for the late businessman, philanthropist, and […]Learn More
Achieving the American Dream
Do you have an idea that could reinvigorate your community’s shrinking middle class? University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins, on May 24, announced a new statewide, presidential initiative called The American Dream Ideas Challenge, that will find, fund, and develop ideas to ensure a vibrant middle class in Utah. The university was selected by […]Learn More