Fulbright Success Story PhD

 Fulbright Scholarships PhD

Our attitude defines us as who we are and who we are going to be in the future. Environment is the major factor that determines the root of our attitude. Wasting time due to ignorance of its value makes us weak in different fields of life. Just letting time pass is not the way of living.  I have seen many students focusing on their academic activity in school and the rest of the time, they just don’t know how to utilize it. Teenage is the period of life we get started learning things very fast, and most of the young fellows remain ignorant of how to use this time. Everyone is born with some innate skills. Unfortunately, In Pakistan we seriously lack those eagle eyes which can judge the innate talent of a person. That is why we are the trend followers and flow with the wind. Those youngsters surrounded by motivated and self-determined friends are fortuitous. They just need to stick with their friends circle and things will go in their favor.

I belong to this aforementioned class of young fellows who do not ever know what is going on around them. They focus only on a single objective and feel pleasure in completing that. Going to school and playing some sports is the habitual activity for them. I still remember that phase of my life having no activity other than homework and cricket and no idea how to benefit from the time on weekends when school is off and no friends to play with. The window open on the side of my home still reminds me of the days I spent standing there for hours watching traffic flow and people gossiping around. Unintentionally, I was procrastinating, which kept me mentally weak.

I was strong in memorizing lessons taught in school and college there while being completely ignorant of the fact that higher studies, engineering in my case, is based on conceptual studies, and this memorized thing will be overwritten by other informative facts one day. This happened exactly the same way as I said “overwritten by further knowledge”.

I have been good at playing cricket since childhood, and my father knows I have a knack for it, but a lack of trust in my own abilities refrained me from making a solo decision and abandoning academia for a while to take a chance at a cricket academy. It isn’t the case for me; only almost every child of us is facing the same problem. We have an interest in something, and our society, culture, and social ethics force us to go the other way. We live in a fantasy life of our own, having the role of a superhero in dreams, but in reality, this superhero is aghast at the events occurring. This is because we are lacking good mentors and counselors at every young age.

My father had a desire to see me as an army officer. Just for his wish I applied and selected for PMA 122 Long course as a Cadet and would have been 2nd leutinent after 2 years training but thank to my Grandmaa who didn’t allowed father to send me there. But still, I had no vision of what is my true passion.

During my bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering from Punjab University Lahore, I had no idea why I was there. I was just hoping for a good job by extrapolating the trend. Although I was fascinated with the prodigy guys having a greater interest in what they were doing by heart, I always craved to be like them but couldn’t, and the only reason for this was my company. I was surrounded by lethargic friends.  My mind was engrossed with the thoughts that I couldn’t do the things that others had done. My penitence of being weak in conceptual studies kept me away from applying to Pakistan’s Top Ranked Universities for post-graduation.

I will again refer to the irony of lacking good mentors because I chose NUST Energy Center USPCASE for my master’s studies because I was deprived of a job for six months after my bachelor’s.

I had no idea of research methodologies; the first time I was introduced to a research paper type of thing, I was totally bemused because the rest of my fellows had written research papers for bachelor’s degrees, and I was totally ignorant of it. This was the transition period, and I got friends who were highly motivated and devoted to their future. I had confidence in my prowess but needed a push. As I said earlier, the environment is a determining factor of our attitude, and NUST provided me with this. After graduation, I felt prestigious to have 5 research papers naming me. This motivation targeted me towards getting admission to NUST for PhD program.

Before visiting Oregon State University on an exchange program in my last semester of MS, I never thought of myself as a product for studying abroad because I had a stringent religious stereotype personality. I always found peace and tranquility in offering prayers to the Almighty.  How can I dream of adjusting abroad even if I was aghast of NUST before taking admission there? This visit was a boom for polishing my skills and fulfilling my desire to be the best, which I craved in my bachelor’s but couldn’t do so at that time. I was unable to keep a balance between religious activities and intentions of doing great in this mortal life. So here is my message for readers of this story

“Not to underestimate your skills, just find a good mentor either physically present or in the form of character-building books.”

After coming back from a four-month exchange program, I was highly motivated, and the idea of pursuing my Ph.D. in the USA, too, seized my mind. Rumination for a bright career led me towards hunting scholarships, and along with my friend, I started preparing for though I had not given my MS thesis defense yet. I requested my supervisor to give me three months and halted my MS thesis preparation. Some family members admonished me to stay back from this unprecedented journey as no one yet went to study abroad. But I salute my father, who always encouraged me to be at my best. It would be an injustice if I did not acknowledge my friend Sara Sultan, who played the role of a mentor, and her moral support always invigorated me whenever I felt despondent.

I was sent back from the Prometric Center on the day of this most awaited test when I failed to show my passport or national identity card (in English). I was floundering at that time, even though it was my fault for not reading the instructions carefully and taking my CNIC. The feeling of being regressed was wandering inside my head. I had incurred everything for this test, and it wasn’t easy to pay $205 again, but good friends are a gift of GOD, and I am thankful to have them. After brooking this formidable time, I scored 304 on the GRE and started preparing for the Fulbright application. I was feeling debased from academic awards and achievements as I had average grades throughout my career (but with first division). But I have been multifaceted and very enthralling another side of me in extracurricular activities and sports. Here is my second advice for readers of this story.

“Do not think Fulbright needs a bookworm. If anyone thinks so, he/she is misinformed. There is a high chance of recommendations for socially active persons who have a knack for sports and volunteer work. Make your profile stronger through attending conferences, workshops, and seminars on topics covering every aspect of life.”

Thanks to merciful almighty Allah, I got accepted for Fulbright scholarships for a Ph.D. with a bachelor’s and master’s CGPA of 3.23, 3.35, and 304 on the GRE. I will be joining the Electrical Computer and Energy Department at Arizona State University in the fall of 2018. If I had been aware of GRE preparation and mentoring platforms like Scholar Den, I would have even graduated from U.S schools.

Lastly, I would encourage my readers not to be discouraged by low CGPA or GRE. If you are average in academia try to balance out it through social and extracurricular activities.  Be mentally strong while applying as this isn’t a smooth path for students like me, having only moral and financial support from family and needing a good mentor or friends to show us the way to go.


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