Nosheen Akhtar is a Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) student from Pakistan studying business at Edmonds Community College. In this blog piece, Ms. Akhtar writes about her struggle to prove that she deserved an education when she was young. Now, as a NWCCI participant, she is making progress towards the professional development goals she longed to reach, and has presented about her culture and shared her story at events around campus and the community.
Yes! Your strong determination cannot hurt you, but it takes time. You just need to continue following your dreams instead of compromising your dreams. Life is full of hurdles, but also, on the other hand, full of happiness. No other happiness can be more real than the happiness you get after a long struggle. Maybe, the achievement of coming to the USA can be very small for someone else, but for me it means a lot.
I cannot forget the days when I had to ask my father hundreds of times just to go to school. I had to make a hundred promises that I would not give my family a bad reputation while going to another city. Moreover, I cannot forget the day when my father allowed me to apply for the scholarship, the Community College Initiative Program. His permission itself was above my expectations.
You will wonder how a father, who couldn’t allow his daughter to go outside of her home, would allow her to go outside the country. If a father couldn’t let his daughter talk to her cousins, how he allowed her to go to a country where she can spend her life independently, talking with hundreds of people. You might think that I am lying. But no! It is true. It happened to me. My father allowed me to come to the USA.
When I was in 7th grade, I ranked 3rd in my class on the basis of scores in my final exam and received a small reward for the achievement. That made me feel very happy. I started to work hard in my studies, I began to enjoy working hard, which made me receive better grades. My father could feel my happiness from my successes and my interaction with studying, but he was also scared that I might involve myself in any type of work which might put a bad name on my family. When I say any type of work, I actually mean the things which are not allowed in my culture such as getting into relationships without my parents’ knowledge or hanging out with friends outside and ending up in bad company.
But I am the kind of person who never accepts defeat. I followed each and every instruction from my father. I never gave him any chance to feel that his decision of sending me to school or college was a bad decision. After matriculation, I had to go to another village for high school. I assured my father that I would not go to any relative or friend’s home, or any party, but in return I asked him to send me to this other village to further my studies. I promised him I would work hard. At last my father agreed, and let me go. Just as I had promised, I was second in my class in high school among more than 500 students. It was because of this achievement that my father couldn’t stop me from furthering my education. It built his trust in me and then he sent me to a city very far from my village. There I graduated from college with good marks.
I had continued my studies, but I didn’t have the chance to build my confidence, communication and leadership skills, which are very important for professional and personal life as well as for achieving my future goals. I still had to ask for small things, such as going to the market to buy something, community volunteering, celebration of any event, religious community gatherings etc. In this way I felt I couldn’t contribute to society in terms of social contribution, even with a college education.
I had knowledge, but no confidence and skills to convey it to others. Actually I wanted to run my own small organization to educate a small group of girl in my area. For that I needed business and leadership and communication skills.
Finally, I received a golden opportunity in the form of a scholarship to study in the United States. I came to know about this scholarship from my colleague where I was working back in my country. She could understand my ambitions to learn and grow. I applied for it and got nominated. It was the happiest day of my life, when I received the call that I was selected to study in the USA – my dream. This short period of time here in the U.S makes me feel that I have really accomplished something in my life. Every day I am exploring new places, people and learning the importance of various skills such as: time management, interpersonal communication and public speaking etc.
There are many students who are afraid to dream big. I suggest, not to worry. Just keep your dreams high and struggle to achieve them. It doesn’t matter if you are a girl; you have the right to dream big and try to make your dream a reality. One day, you too will thrive and it will bring a beautiful smile to your face and your loved one. I thank my dad who trusted me and always stood beside me. Through his trust, I am on the way to open more possibilities and travel to different countries.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The opinions expressed in this blog by writers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Northwest Community College Initiative program, Edmonds Community College, Whatcom Community College, Pierce College, the United States Department of State or any employee thereof. NWCCI and Edmonds Community College are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied by the student bloggers.