The Leona Zaharis Scholarship, established in 2022, will provide financial awards for study abroad programs beginning fall 2023/academic year 2023-24. Students who are eligible to apply may be first generation college students OR students who are not first generation college students but have graduated from an Iowa high school AND have federal eligibility for financial aid.

The number of scholarships awarded and amounts will vary based on semester/session:

  • up to two (2) $1,000 (summer/winter)
  • up to two (2) $2,000 (fall/spring)
  • up to two (2) $3,000 (academic year)

This scholarship is not renewable.

Award Criteria

  • First generation college student - parent(s) did not attend college
  • Students who are not first generation college students but have graduated from an Iowa high school and have federal eligibility for financial aid
  • Undergraduate, enrolled as a full-time degree-seeking student at the University of Iowa (UI)
  • Good academic standing
  • Registration in academic credit-earning approved Study Abroad course (ABRD) prior to the release of the award


Leona Zaharis Scholarship application


Winter 2023: Friday, September 29, 2023

Spring 2024: Friday, October 6, 2023


About the Leona Zaharis Scholarship

The passion for exploring instilled in her by her mother Leona Zaharis, who passed away in 2022, led Cathy Zaharis to start a scholarship fund in her mother’s honor. The Leona Zaharis Scholarship Fund is being established to support students who, like Leona Zaharis, are curious about the world and want to study abroad.

Cathy & Leona Zaharis
Leona Zaharis (left) and Cathy Zaharis

“My mother was a woman of the world; an Iowan, yes, but a woman of the world. She never got to go to college and after high school, was offered a job as a teller at a local bank. My grandfather wanted my mom to take the job, but my grandmother told my mom to go see the world and explore it. When I think about the outcome of my mother’s life, she loved the state of Iowa and wanted to live here, but she chose to see it all and explore the world too.”

- Cathy Zaharis

Leona Zaharis Scholarship News

Joseph Seo

6 first-generation UI students to study abroad with help from new scholarship

Wednesday, May 10, 2023
Six University of Iowa first-generation college students will go abroad this fall with support from the Leona Zaharis Scholarship, a fund that was established in 2022 by Cathy Zaharis (BBA finance ’82) in memory of her mother.
Cathy & Leona Zaharis

New scholarship fund will allow students to explore the world and expand their horizons

Tuesday, November 1, 2022
A generous gift from Cathy Zaharis (BBA finance ’82) established the Leona Zaharis Scholarship Fund, a scholarship created in honor of Cathy's mother to support students who, like Leona, are curious about the world and want to study abroad.