17-year-old Adeeba Tak from Srinagar has been selected for a course in mechanical engineering at a prestigious university in the US and has got financial aid for the same.
I was a kid and it fascinated me a lot when I, for the first time, saw a plane flying through clouds. I was told it is mankind’s one of the greatest engineering marvels”, said Adeeba Tak.
That very moment, Tak developed interest in engineering and soon “I decided to become an engineer.”
Tak, now 17, was recently chosen for a mechanical engineering undergraduate course at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), a private Ivy League research university located in the University City section of Philadelphia.
She would be travelling to the US in August. “It is a big dream of mine coming true,” she said.
Tak will be availing benefits under a fully funded scholarship, covering tuition, housing, dinning, books, personal expenses and campus transportation.
Penn would be incurring about US $ 300,000 (equivalent to `19 million) on her studies out of the financial aid it will receive from private donors including Amita & C.K. Birla Scholarship, Goyal & Prasad Scholarship, Monica & Narvin Valrani Scholarship, Penn Grant and International Student Word- Study.
In the backdrop of her beguiling childhood experience, Tak was quite interested in aeronautical or space engineering, the branch that is popular mostly among male students in India. “Luckily, aeronautical engineering is part of the course she would be pursuing at Penn,” said Mubeen Masudi, her teacher and founder of Srinagar’s Rise Institute where Tak has been receiving coaching.
Tak worked hard to get the scholarship and the feat comes at a time when Kashmir is, once again, caught in grip of violence and protests in which students are in the forefront, prompting the authorities to close educational institutions every so often for fear of disturbances at these.
Incidentally, Tak lives is Shopian, the southern district of the restive Himalayan Valley worst hit by the unrest set off by the killing of popular militant commander Burhan Wani in July 8, 2016. The mayhem returned to the area earlier this month in the aftermath of the death of 13 militants and 4 civilians in security forces’ stepped up counterinsurgency campaign on a single day (April 1).
Tak says that when the whole Vale of Kashmir was in the grip of a similar unrest, shutdowns and curfews in 2016, she was busy working hard on her studies. “Kashmir remained shut for almost seven months in 2016. I was in Class XI then. I studied in those circumstances only,” she said.
It paid off. She is the first girl from Jammu and Kashmir to be awarded full scholarship programme at Penn, one of the most prestigious institutions in the world. The university boasts of producing more than 30 Nobel laureates, 25 billionaires and a significant number of Fortune 500 CEOs.
Rise Institute had picked Tak up during a talent hunt conducted by it in 2016 itself. “She was among top position holders in the 10th board exams but still a raw gem which we decided to make sparkling,” said Salman Shahid, the co-founder of the institute.
Acknowledging it, Tak said, “While the decision to become an engineer was mine, they gave me lots of encouragement.”
When at Shah Hamadan Memorial Institute and New Greenland Educational Institute in hometown Shopian, Tak would get mixed response during discussions over her plan of becoming an engineer with her teachers and friends. “While I received words of encouragement from most of my friends and classmates, the teachers would try to put a damper on my ambition by saying that being a girl I should try my luck with the medicine instead of dreaming to become an engineer,” she said.
“My parents were very supportive, however. My mom, a housewife who for some reason could not get hold of much educational opportunities would repeatedly say she wants me and my younger sister to spring our wings and fly as far as we can in the educational sphere.”
Laila Gushan is on cloud nine over her daughter’s hit. “Studying abroad at one of the prestigious universities of the world will impact the rest of her life and open her mind,” she said.
Tak’s father Naushad Qaiser endorsing the view said that going to the US would be valuable to his daughter’s development. “It will develop her skills and benefit her both professionally and personally,” he said.
Tak was credibly excited to hear that she had been selected to receive the Penn scholarship. “It was a very competitive test for which not many people from Kashmir go. I’m so happy that I have been granted such a prestigious academic award. The scholarship will have a significant impact on my ability to achieve my desired goal,” she said. “My parents are double happy,” she added.
Tak’s classmate at Rise Institute Muhammad Moin Mir too has been awarded full-scholarship at an American university. He would be studying computer science engineering at Princeton University. “I tried at several overseas universities but succeeded in getting it at Princeton. It is the happiest moment in my life, so far,” he said. Mir was encouraged by his parents to “try everything good that comes in your way and keep moving close to your goal”. However, Mir’s “main interest” remained in engineering and “I got what I was craving for.”
Both Tak and Mir said they would try to pursue higher studies in engineering abroad and then return home to serve “our own people.”
Amid the raging militancy and growing public discontent, the education has been one of the sectors most hit by the daily violence between separatist militants and security forces and consequent shutdowns and curfews in Kashmir Valley. Educational institutions are often closed either because of the separatists’ strike calls or official curfews and other “pre-emptive” and “precautionary” measures by the authorities for the fear of protests by students. Examinations are deferred too. This has caused “irreversible loss” for study and tuitions to student. Tak and Moin have tried to steer clear of all this and that was not easy for them or their teachers.
“In the circumstances Kashmir has been caught in it has become very difficult for us to hold the classes and the students to attend them regularly. During the unrest (2016) we used to call them here at 5 o’clock in the morning. They (Tak and Moin) worked hard and after two years they are reaping the fruit of it and it is sweetest,” said Shahid....