Winner Announced for ISV Magazine Margaret W. Wong Scholarship

The team at ISV Magazine is proud to announce that the winner of the spring 2016 Margaret W. Wong scholarship is…

ADILA WAHDAT from Afghanistan studying at Eastern Mennonite University! Congratulations!

International students who applied for the ISV Magazine Margaret W. Wong Scholarship had to answer the question, “How will studying in the U.S. help you achieve your career goals?”

The team at ISV Magazine narrowed the applicants down to 11 finalists and from those finalists Adila was selected as the winner.

“It’s never an easy decision,” Carrie Circosta, Editor in Chief explained. “We hope to continue growing ISV Magazine so we can provide more scholarships to international students in the future.”

Read Adila’s winning essay below. We will share the essays from all the finalists throughout the week.

Congratulations Adila!

See the 11 finalists here

Adila Wahdat international student voice magazineNever Give Up

I am a sophomore at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) pursuing my undergraduate degree in digital media. I came to the United States from Afghanistan to attend university so I could reach my goal of becoming a leader in graphic and digital design in my country. I will return there after I graduate. I see myself as an entrepreneur who will change the future for other young Afghan women.

My vision is to establish a private institution in Kabul for female students who are passionate about digital media. I will create a safe and inspiring educational environment with leading-edge technology and expert female instructors. I will be a role model for girls who want to pursue the same path that I have followed. Young Afghan women have many talents but it is difficult for them to develop their skills. With my education from EMU I will be able to teach and mentor Afghan girls to help them achieve their dreams.

I was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. When I was five-years-old my family fled to Pakistan to escape the severe civil war that was raging just before the Taliban took over the country. I grew up as a refugee in Pakistan with my six siblings and my parents. My family returned to Afghanistan in 2006 with the hope to live in peace in our home country. I’m lucky to have a family who values education for both girls and boys. Still, growing up in Pakistan and Afghanistan I faced many issues as a girl, where the cultures are extremely discriminatory against girls and women. Those challenges and how I have addressed them shaped me as a person and taught me the importance of holding onto my dream, pursuing that dream with focus and discipline, and taking a leadership role for other young Afghan women.

My dream is to be a professional graphic and digital media designer. However, in my culture, this is not considered an appropriate field of study for girls. There are virtually no women in this field in Afghanistan so I had no role models or easy educational paths to follow. Despite this obstacle I did not give up.

I attended two different schools in Kabul that offered classes in graphic and digital media design. In both schools I was the only girl among classrooms full of male students and I was the most committed student. I was not welcomed by my male classmates, but I never let that become an obstacle between me and my dream. Every time I stepped into the classrooms filled with boys, I reminded myself of the love and commitment I have for digital media and my dream to develop myself as a professional in the field. My commitment and love kept me inspired to surmount the difficulties I faced.

Eventually, one of the schools hired me as an instructor. Soon young women heard that I was teaching and this attracted more female students to the school. As I witnessed the increase in female enrollment, I realized that many young women share my passion for digital media, graphic design, and web design; but because of our conservative culture and the strict division between men and women, they do not feel comfortable seeking professional support from male instructors. This motivated me to become a role model and help these young women achieve their dream careers.

To fulfill my aspiration of becoming an expert in digital media design in 2014 I applied and was accepted to Eastern Mennonite University (EMU). EMU has been my dream university. It has a sophisticated digital media program and a friendly environment for students from diverse backgrounds like me.

Now that I have been in the U.S. and at EMU for three semesters I feel more empowered and I enjoy the transformation that I have been going through. In Afghanistan, girls are supposed to be shy; their voices are hardly heard. A quiet girl is considered a “good Afghan girl”. However, I realized that it is different in the US; my voice matters. I can share my opinion, question my teachers, and share my experience. I started finding my voice and valuing my voice, which is precious to me.

I believe that building my professional and personal skills will help me inspire other young women in Afghanistan. When I return to Afghanistan after I graduate from college, I will be equipped professionally and personally to become a role model. I will teach other young Afghan women to believe in themselves and let their voices be heard.

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