The sun was setting on the dusty streets of Bhai Pheru in Punjab as Ayesha stood before the Chaudhry (the tribal leader of the village), alongside her father and grandfather, holding her acceptance letter from the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) in her hand. Her heart was pounding in her chest as tension filled the room. She knew that her dreams were hanging in the balance and that this moment could be the turning point of her life.
This wasn’t the first time Ayesha found herself in such a situation. When she passed Grade 10 at her TCF school and expressed her desire to attend a college two hours away from her village, her family had to bear the brunt of the villagers’ objections before she was allowed to study.
But throughout her life, Ayesha’s family has been her rock. Her father, a daily-wage laborer and her mother, a house helper, stood behind her always, just as they were now, pleading her case, until they persuaded the Chaudhry to allow her to go to the city and fulfil her dream.
Today, Ayesha is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Management Sciences at LUMS. She is the first girl in her family to complete matriculation and attend university.
“I had first heard about LUMS during our counselling sessions at school,” recalls Ayesha. “But when I arrived here, the campus was nothing like I had seen before!” Despite the initial nerves, Ayesha was able to make friends and adapt to the new environment. She studied hard and was determined to make the most of this opportunity she had earned.
After graduation, Ayesha dreams of starting her clothing business. “I want to change the traditionally held beliefs that keep girls from pursuing their dreams beyond the boundaries of their community. By maintaining my parents’ trust and proving myself, I can help break these barriers.”