Interview with the Unilever Scholars

2 women developing into leaders, thanks to Unilever. Hear their thoughts and plans for the future.

In 2014, UBL announced the Unilever Scholars Award at the Asian University for Women (AUW). Under this scholarship program, 2 undergraduate students of the university received 100% tuition waiver for the 4 years of their undergraduate studies. Fariha Mustafa and Kazi Sumaita Nahar were chosen to receive the award based on their academic prowess and past profile of accomplishments. 

We sat down with the 2 Unilever Scholars of AUW to understand their motivations and aspirations and recognize how our efforts are helping create a brighter future for these scholars.

Fariha with Nobel laureate, Mohammad Yunus, during her Grameen Bank internship

What are you studying at AUW and why did you choose this major?

Fariha: I am working towards a major in economics and double minor in mathematics and development studies. Last year I did an internship with Grameen Bank where we went to Tangail. I saw there how social businesses is changing lives and it amazed me. Hence my choice of economics and development studies.

Sumaita: I am pursuing a major in biological science because I love science. I am doing a minor in public health so that I can work to improve the health of the general public, in the future.

How do you think the AUW experience is preparing you to excel in the real world?

Fariha: Because this is an international university, the culture is very different. There are people from many nations here and the diversity is enriching. The multicultural education is changing our perception drastically. It is increasing our tolerance and helping us be more creative in finding solutions to common problems of the world. We understand that people will have different point of views but we don’t fight about it, rather we use the difference. We are learning to think critically and analytically.

Sumaita: We are also learning about leadership; not only in theory but in practice as well. We have to do projects for many courses and we have to work in teams. This semester we had to do a group project for our Leadership, Psychology and Politics course and we decided to do something for blind children of the city. We recorded audio books for the children and I contacted a school in Chittagong for the visually impaired and donated the audio books to them. 

When we went over and interacted with them it felt amazing. We made something from scratch which is having such an obvious impact and this we did because of coursework! So yes, I am developing my leadership skill, communicating with my community and learning to take on responsibility.

Sumaitra receiving her MUN organizers award

What extracurricular activities are you interested in?

Fariha: I love photography so I am in the photography club. I am also an AUW student ambassador, so my job is to answer to all the queries of the students. I am also an AUW academic mentor, meaning I am in-charge of 6 juniors right now. They are from different countries and I am responsible for helping them assimilate to AUW and help them do well academically as well. So yeah, I have a lot of stuff to do.

Sumaita: I am in the Model UN club and I helped organize the AUW MUN 2015 as the director of finance. I love to work as an organizer and in November I also helped organize the AUW Interuniversity Debate. Apart from these I also work in Volunteer for Bangladesh, I also work in Bangladesh Youth Environmental Initiative (BYEI). Last December, I went to this camp for high school students organized by BYEI, where I mentored 4 students in the camp and later mentored 2 students on opening environmental club in their schools.

So after AUW, what will you invest your life towards?

Sumaita: I have this idea, I want to open a counselling organization for underprivileged communities where we will raise awareness about some of the problems in our society, like domestic violence, how to raise children or giving support to depressed people etc.

Fariha: I am very passionate about women empowerment and that’s where I would want to invest my time in. I want to help rural women know there rights and speak up. I still don’t have a plan so I guess step one would be to find a mentor!

Finally, what’s your recommendation for the future generations of women?

Think. Respect yourself. Understand that we might be making a lot of mistakes but it is us who will have to find the solution too. 

Be independent. Learn to defend your views. Explore. Know your rights.

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