Two years after its founding at the hands of Ali Chaudhry ’12, Kenneth Feder ’12, and Kumail Akbar ’12, the student-run organization Possibilities Pakistan has, in Wesleyan tradition, entered the competition for the Dell Social Innovation Prize, which awards $50,000 to an organization “with innovative ideas to solve a social or environmental problem.” Last year, the Dell Prize was awarded to Shining Hope for Communities, co-founded by Kennedy Odede ’12 and Jessica Posner ’09.
Created in an effort to provide college counseling service and University admissions information to Pakistani students applying both internationally and to schools within Pakistan, the organization, is now facilitated by Pakistani undergraduate students studying at universities around the world.
Chaudhry, the president of Possibilities Pakistan, said that he founded the organization in response to the lack of college counseling services in Pakistan.
“The idea for Possibilities Pakistan came from my own experience in applying abroad, which was similar to that of thousands of other Pakistani students who apply abroad every year with no counseling facilities,” he said.
According to Chaudhry, there are some organizations in Pakistan that provide information about ap plying to colleges, but their services are often expensive.
“There are foreign for-profit businesses that run companies which charge students one thousand dollars just to give them the Common Application,” Chaudhry said. “So basically these students are being ripped off.”
Possibilities Pakistan offers a guidance service, which refers prospective college students in Pakistan to members of the organization who volunteer to answer questions and provide information about the application process. Chaudhry said the organization has received inquiries from over 300 Pakistani students.
“A large number of Pakistani students possess the capability and talent to excel in academia, but miss out due to inadequate and/or incorrect guidance,” wrote Possibilities Pakistan Project Manager and Oxford Student Schyan Zafar in an e-mail to The Argus. “Possibilities Pakistan aims to facilitate these students, free of cost, by providing first-hand guidance from others who have been through the same situation.”
Possibilities Pakistan has approximately 300 members worldwide who provide information about college admissions to prospective students. Some of those who now give others advice and information benefited from the organization themselves in the first place.
“The people who work with us,not only know the application process as well as any other student does, but also know their own particular college so they can give more direct guidance,” Akbar said. “Also, they know about the issues that the average Pakistani student faces.”
The organization also runs an online admissions advice magazine, updated biannually, which they said has received over 3,500 hits since it was launched in 2009.
Feder said the Dell award would help the organization further expand the magazine and allow the organization to also offer guidance for graduate school and job applications.
The first round of voting, which is open to the public at dellsocialinnovation.com, will end on Feb. 18 at 6:00 p.m. EST. Judges will select 90 semi-finalists, and the ten projects that receive the most votes will automatically advance to the next round.
“With support, we could expand the magazine and expand the guidance service with new ideas,” Feder said. “Through this, thousands and thousands of kids could get sent to college.”