World Refugee Day 2024: Paul LeBlanc’s Reflection on World Refugee Day

Paul LeBlanc and SNHU GEM graduates at Nairobi Graduation

Outgoing SNHU President Paul LeBlanc reflects on the impact of refugee education and his gratitude for SNHU GEM learners.

To commemorate World Refugee Day, outgoing SNHU President Paul LeBlanc wrote to SNHU GEM students and alumni to share his admiration for their hard work, dedication, and contributions to the global SNHU community during his tenure. Read his letter below.

Dear SNHU GEM community, 

Today is World Refugee Day – a day when the world recognizes the incredible strength, resilience, and courage of refugees and displaced people. Refugee learners, including many of you from SNHU’s Global Education Movement (SNHU GEM), face significant barriers to accessing education. Yet you persevere – showing the world that when given the opportunity, you can change the world.  

This year, I wanted to celebrate World Refugee Day by sharing my admiration and gratitude for your hard work, optimism, and achievements.     

Since we launched SNHU GEM in 2017, I’ve been lucky enough to travel to our sites across Africa and the Middle East, where I visited classrooms and attended graduation ceremonies. Through these trips, I’ve seen the incredible legacy of hope that SNHU GEM graduates bring to their communities. I was vividly reminded of this truth last fall when I presided over SNHU GEM graduations in Nairobi and Kigali, where I met graduates that I would stack up against graduates from any university in the world. It warmed my heart to see the joy and pride their families felt as they watched their graduates receive their diplomas. 

As some of you may know, my last day as President of SNHU is June 30th. It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve as your President, and I am immensely proud of the work the SNHU GEM and SNHU teams and our in-country partners have done to expand access to education and transform the lives of our GEM learners. I’m even more proud of you.   

In the coming months, SNHU’s new President, Lisa Marsh Ryerson, will work with SNHU GEM Executive Director Rachael Sears and her team to lead the next chapter for SNHU GEM. Under their leadership, I know that the program will continue to serve many more learners around the world. As a UNHCR leader said to me, “SNHU doesn’t just educate individual refugee learners, it brings hope to whole refugee communities.” Is there better work for a university? 

Thank you for being an unforgettable part of my journey at SNHU and know that I will always be cheering you on.  Thank you for being some of the most impressive students I’ve had the privilege of working with in my career. 


Paul LeBlanc

SNHU President