New Alumni-Supported Fund Helps Students From Conflict Zones

Hands of the world

War disrupts their lives—It shouldn't end their educations

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

Students who hail from war-torn countries face profound challenges: Escalations in their home countries can affect family safety and resources and upend their college careers. A new fund helps them stay in college—and ensures that their dreams remain within reach.

The Conflict Zone Student Support Fund assists international students whose demonstrated financial need has increased because of extreme violence or war in their homeland. Students from an international conflict zone who are experiencing long-lasting financial effects of previous violence or conflicts back home are also eligible to apply. It benefits students of promise like Elias Berhe ’25, one of several young Dickinsonians experiencing the effects of increased tensions and violence in their home country, Ethiopia.  

“Life in general has been very difficult for every Ethiopian,” says Berhe, who plans to declare a double major in computer science and data analytics. “This funding has helped me to continue my study here in at Dickinson with less tension and clear focus to achieve my academic goals. Without the fund, it would have created a serious obstacle in my undergraduate academic journey.” 

Nauiokas headshot

Amy Nauiokas ’94 made the establishing gift to launch the Conflict Zone Student Support Fund.

The effects of this support can be far-reaching. As we assist students in immediate need—and for whom a college education is potentially transformative—we also help ensure that their global points of view enrich campus debates, discussions and social life on campus. Ultimately, that helps further Dickinson’s mission to providing students from all over the world with the skills to solve complex problems. That could include the problem of war, notes Amy Nauiokas ’94, whose establishing gift launched the Conflict Zone Student Support Fund to help Ethiopian students earlier this spring. 

“Every day, we awake to learn of a new conflict with the potential to threaten the livelihood and continuity of this community of students,” says Nauoikas, a former Dickinson international-studies major and study-abroad student who’s also the adoptive mother of an Ethiopian-born child. “When conflicts, wars and other unforeseen events threaten the livelihood and lives of our students and their families, the last thing they should have to worry about is staying safe and at school.” 

While the first round of scholarship assistance focuses on Dickinson students from Ethiopia who face immediate need, support for students from war-torn regions around the globe is also critical. That’s why Nauiokas is sending out a rallying call. 

Thanks to her generosity, all gifts directed toward the Conflict Zone Student Support Fund during Dickinson's upcoming Day of Giving, Tuesday, April 5, will be matched up to $60,000. To support the fund now, donors can make a gift online and enter "Conflict Zone Student Support Fund" in the comments.

“As alumni and donors, we have a responsibility to do whatever we can to protect and support our community,” Nauiokas says. “It is my hope that this idea will speak to fellow Dickinsonians and encourage donors who feel compelled to support this very urgent and important need.” 

The Conflict Zone Student Support Fund is among the many ways to support students through the Campaign for Scholarships: Change a Life—Change the World. To learn more about the campaign, visit


Published February 22, 2022