By Vinny Craig, Staff Writer

The Students for Orphan Relief (SOR) will be awarding $2,000 scholarships to three local high school seniors for the 2018-2019 school year called the Odyssey Scholarship.

To qualify, students must be a resident of the state of Michigan for at least one year, a minimum 3.0 GPA through the first semester of their senior year, succeeded in spite of hardships and have lost a parent or legal guardian.

“[The scholarship] is intended to help students invest in themselves through continued education,” said the scholarship flier.

Diana Ollaik, the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Students for Orphan Relief chapter founder and current sitting president, and seven other members came up with the idea over other projects.

“The scholarship stood out to us because we knew that this way we could have an impact on local students,” said Ollaik. “We could actually see and interact with these students, it wouldn’t just be us raising money and donating it.”

According to SOR eboard member Ahmad Taleb, the organization has reached out to some high schools to advertise the scholarship, but are “still in the process” of reaching out further.

The mother program of SOR is the Orphan Relief, a 501(c)(3) that helps students with hardships due to the loss of a parent by providing resources. The UM-Dearborn chapter was founded by Ollaik at the start of the 2016-2017 school year.

The SOR does many things to raise money throughout the school year such as bake sales, restaurant fundraisers and other opportunities that may come along.

“We’re currently working on a charity gala in order to raise a lot more money and hopefully achieve our goal,” said Ollaik.

UNICEF defines an orphan as losing one or more parent after the AIDS pandemic began causing the death of more parents. From a 2015 report, they estimate 140 million orphans worldwide, which is down to its lowest total since UNICEF started keeping data in 1990. Of those 140 million orphans, 15.1 million orphans have lost both parents.

The application is live now with the deadline for applications on April 1, 2018. The SOR will be continuing to fundraise through the end of the semester.