Masters Success Story - Social Work
I am M.T and I have recently been admitted to University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, USA in Masters of Social Work with a Research Assistantship covering my Tuition Fee and Health insurance with a monthly stipend of around $1200 per month for an academic year of nine months.
This may seems a big success but behind this success is a list of failures and small achievements. These three lines are simple and straight but the path to achieve this was not easy at all.
I belong from a humble family, belonging from a village in Faisalabad. My Father is a school principal and my mother is a housewife. We are seven brothers and sisters and I am the eldest. I got my early education from Lawrence College Murree, I did O’Levels in 2007 and then due to financial issues I was not able to take admission in A ‘Levels instead I was compelled to continue in the same college and did FSc. Pre-Engineering against my will, I had to do it and I had no option. I remained above average in studies till intermediate but I was totally dependent on my parents and was always extra pampered. This all has an adverse effect on my personality, I had no confidence in myself, I was not able to communicate with people properly and if I was ask to fill any form, I was all shaky. The funniest part was if I were to talk to a girl for any reason I used to blush and I was not able to talk. In 2008, I appeared in ISSB exam for Aeronautical Engineering in Pakistan Air Force, I not only failed to get through ISSB but also fractured my wrist. So a person 18 years old was not less than a disaster.
In 2009, I somehow managed to get admission in XYZ Engineering at XYZ University after many rejects from other Universities. It was a time I revolted, I developed a very rebellious attitude towards my home infect my parents. Parents have an innate nature to be protective and possessive about their children but sometimes over protective behavior of parents destroy a child’s personality. I am not saying to disobey your parents but sometimes you have to go against your parents and do what you think is right for you, you have to take a decision and then firmly stick to your plans to achieve it. Meanwhile you have to talk to your parents that and convince them that what you are doing is right. So in my case 2009 was a year of failures and it ended with lot of lessons.
So, my life took a U-turn, as I told I used to study at Lawrence College, it is a college of elite class and I got a chance to study there because of my uncle. But when I joined XYZ University things were all together different. I had no conveyance to go to University, I used to travel to university by University bus, the stop near my home was the last stop, so usually the bus was full and overloaded and I hand no option other than hanging with the rare door. Life has got very hard and tough for me but I think it was ALLAH’s blessing in a way because due to this I had an urge to do something, a lot of energy but directionless. Anyways I compromised with things I could not change, but focused on the things which I could control.
I use to come to University at 7:30 am, used to attend classes till 1:00 pm then afterwards I used to stay at library till 8:00 pm in the evening and used to return home on the last University bus. The first year I did excellent with 3.90 CGPA and with that I had worked on my presentation and communication skills. My all this hard work bore fruit. On 2nd February, 2011, I along with my team presented in an International conference on Energy at Marriot, Karachi and won third prize. This was an ice breaker for me, for the first time in my life I realized my potential and it strengthened my belief on my own abilities. A pampered child was out of his shell and was on his way, with energies to conquer the world.
After this a series of achievements was bestowed on me by ALLAH Almighty. I became president of student societies at my University and represented XYZ University at many forums not only with in Pakistan but abroad also. In 2014, my team won best Delegation in Germany and France among fifty two delegations from around the world.
The four year journey left me with lot of lessons. I have developed a habit of listing down the factors after my each success and failure. I write what led to my failure and how I was able to achieve anything. Believe me, this helped me a lot. Every individual is manufactured differently, by doing this I believe you get to know yourself. You can get to know the ingredients of success for you and you can control your life.
Anyways let’s move to the interesting part of the story, I graduated in march 2014, and I was doing excellent in academics I was pushed by my relatives to go for CSS, it was a big decision for me but considering my previous excellent academic record, it was believed that CSS is made for me and I am made for CSS. Once again I came under the pressure of relatives and parents, I tried to resist but I was emotionally blackmailed like one of my uncle said “when you were a child, I used to take to the candy shop, I got you the toys you demanded and now you are grown up and you cannot fulfill our one desire, how mean of you”. So with a heavy heart but with determination to bring happiness and financial stability to my family. I set myself for CSS.I appeared in my CSS exam in 2015 and could not qualify the written exam mainly due to a poor strategy and lack of time management. So, you can well imagine what happened with me but I learnt a great lesson from it i.e. whenever you set a goal, plan it, and again and again revise it. Change your strategy according to circumstances and keep alternatives, keep trying until and unless you get your goal. Another advantage I got from my failure was that I realized that my passion lies in academics that I enjoy teaching, researching and I was not destined for Bureaucracy.
I was clear now, without a second thought I decided to choose academia, I saw myself as a Professor in a reputed University in another ten years’ time. Although I had no clue what it takes to become a professor. Another major decision I took was that I abundant Engineering and decided to purse Public Policy (Social Policy to be more specific) as a carrier.
It was not less than a challenge to pursue a field in which I have no previous education and work experience. And with time I learnt in order to excel in academia it’s important to have a PhD in that subject. A lot of people and some of the teachers said that it was not a wise decision and I should purse Engineering as a carrier. There was lot of pressure, being eldest I was expected to support my family too. Things were against me but I was determined to go for Public Policy whatever it takes. So I started working towards my Goal.
In May 2015, at last I got the opportunity to set my foot in Public Policy. I joined Centre for Public Policy and Governance (CPPG) and worked on a USAID project on Civil Services reforms in Punjab across four major departments that is Health, Education, Revenue and Police. I successfully completed my project and was able to publish four reports and few articles in newspaper.
The experience was enough for me to get admission in Masters of Public Policy or a related field. I started working on that. I didn’t know which country to apply and which University I should apply. I only knew about Fulbright and DAAD, I applied in both and got rejected.
Then came, the Scholar Den, as a savior for me at that time I don’t know what was the name of the group but I contacted Mr. Faisal Khan and Dr.Ayaz Khan through Facebook and got a very positive response for them. I started guidance from them and every time I talked to them I bombarded them with new questions and step by step started preparing for my GRE and IELTS.
Meanwhile, I missed an important part of the story, yes in September 2014, when I was preparing for my CSS, I got interested in a girl, so without wasting time, I proposed her and it was “yes” from her side. After taking my CSS exams I talked to my parents about her. My Dad was furious as he wanted me to marry one of my cousins. So he totally refused and when I remained adamant to marry a girl of my own choice. My all uncles and paternal relatives literally disowned me, no one was supporting me and whatever the ways I tried, My Dad totally rejected. Long story short, for two years I fought the war, things got so much worse that, I went into depression was seeing a psychiatrist regularly. All these things and my worsening health could not move my Dad an inch and he kept adamant that he will not go to the girls home with the proposal. On March 1, 2016 I left my home totally as my health was going down living in a constant tension. I started living alone and then I started working on my admission in USA and at the same time I somehow through my teachers sent proposal to the girl’s parents and somehow I got engaged.
After all this I have to work on three fronts. Finance, Admission in USA and Marriage of my choice. I set myself to work, stopped visiting psychiatrist and for me only these things were life. I started teaching O’Level students and started working with Green Hall academy, in few months my average earning was around PKR 60,000 and but I was not able to manage for my GRE, I was only able to manage about four to five hours a week and I prepared for about two months and took my GRE. I got an average score of 304 (157 Q, 147 V, 3.0 AWA). With this score I applied for PhD positions in three different Universities in USA and I got rejected from two and I guess it was due to the reason that I did not had a background in the subject plus there was no official research paper to support my case for PhD. The third University i.e. University of Wisconsin Milwaukee which has been ranked 1st in research according to Carnegie Classification, gave me admission in Masters of Social Work with a chance of reapplying to PhD program next year. I was not offered any financial assistance. Without a financial assistance it was impossible for me to join UWM. Therefore I tried to explore all ways in which I can secure some financial assistance. Daily I used to spend some two hours to explore different scholarships but one way or the other I was found ineligible or the chance of getting was very bleak. I contacted my advisor at UWM and discussed my issue with him. The Advisor told me to contact professors and ask if they have any RA ship. I contacted about fifty percent of the professors related to Social work. Before that I drafted an email, which I requested my advisor in USA to recheck and suggest me any valuable additions. The advisor was very helpful and he keenly helped me in that. I sent the emails and within a week all the professors replied that at the moment they cannot confirm an RA ship as their projects are not confirm.
It was a tough time for me, at one side my marriage issue was pressing me, I had a lot of pressure from my In-laws to persuade my Father to join the wedding as it is a matter of disrespect if he does not join it. At the same time, I had no clue, how I am going to manage my expense but one thing I have decided that at any cost, I will not miss the opportunity and will join UWM. Even I started preparing for the Prodigy Finance to get loan. Meanwhile I was in constant communication with my Advisor I told him that I really wanted to join, it’s my passion but my financial circumstances are not letting me join it. GOD bless that kind professor, he gone out of the way for me, he talked to the head of department, and he arranged for a skype interview. I prepared for Interview, thanks to Mr. Faisal and Dr. Ayaz again for helping to prepare my interview. I spent two whole days and prepared for the interview in depth.
I gave my interview, it went well and finally after three weeks. I was offered a RA ship which was covering full tuition fee, health insurance and a monthly stipend of $1200. It was more than I have wished for, I accepted the offer.
Meanwhile, after nine months of living alone, I returned home, I talked to my Dad, and I told him about my scholarship and admission in USA (although at that time nothing was final, but I had no choice, I was at least working on it.) and somehow after a lot of effort I convinced him for Nikah and I got Nikahfied on 13th of November, 2016. Then after a period of six months I got my scholarship offer officially. Once everything was smooth, I pushed my father for my Marriage and finally I am getting married on 22nd of July, 2017.
All Goals achieved, ALLHAMDULILAH.
Moral: If you want something as bad as you want to live, you will get it. In order to achieve your Goals four things are must; Determination, Planning, Patience and Persistence.
Moral 2: If you want to get married with a girl of your choice, you should get admission in USA.
Good Luck to all future aspirants for USA admissions!!!