In Augustus 2016 Fizzah Malik from Pakistan started in her Master Program at Tilburg University. With the scholarship provided by the Tilburg School of Economics and Management alumni, she obtained her master degree in Economics.
At the very end of Eastern Pakistan, next to the borders of India lays the city Lahore. The second largest city of Pakistan (with a lively history) was home to Fizzah Malik (23) for almost her entire life. Now she left the country for her first abroad experience and arrived at Tilburg University to obtain a master degree in Economics. I got to meet someone with an intriguing story, an inspiring vision and strong determination. She calls herself a ‘math junkie’ and fights for accessible education for children, which she has been actively trying to improve in Pakistan herself in multiple ways.
Fizzah is someone who learned to take care of herself at an early age. [Both her parents passed away at a young age and her sisters moved to other places, as she got older.] Her childhood shaped a strong personality who knows what she wants. With two part time jobs, a research assistant internship on micro financing and studying a bachelor in Economics & Mathematics she is the opposite of what one could call lazy. Before she arrived in Tilburg she lived at a hostel in Lahore. “It wasn’t always easy in Pakistan. I’ve overcome many challenges during my life. After my sisters moved, finding a good hostel to live was important, since many places aren’t safe for girls alone.” Determined, she manages all challenges, completes her bachelor and finishes her jobs. Her experiences and life in Pakistan showed her the importance of education. “In my country many children are forced to work in factories to support their families. There are so many smart children, but their talents and intelligence are simply not backed-up.”
Education is something no one can take away from you, once you have it, it will be forever yours
Education changes lives
“My mom used to say ‘education is something no one can take away from you, once you have it, it will be forever yours’.” During her life in Pakistan she made serious efforts to help others in obtaining an education. “I traveled to remote places and villages where only small schools exists to assist and teach youngsters and I helped students in English to pass their proficiency tests, required to enter the universities. I believe this can change lives, as long as there is an access for children to get an education. Unfortunately, now it’s only for the privileged that can go study, while others work and suffer at young ages. This is unacceptable, but a widespread reality.”
My ultimate goal: accessible education in Pakistan
It was clear for Fizzah that a master degree was a necessary next step. “My eventual goal is to become a professor and use this position to study and improve the access to education in Pakistan. My master in economics with the track behavioral studies is critical in this process. I want to write my thesis on the generosity and financial aid policies of states. Major differences between states exist in the ‘why’ and ‘how’ in providing financial aid for purposes like education in underdeveloped countries. In western countries for instance it’s often observed that something horrible must happen first before some form of help establishes. I want to understand these tendencies and write a publishable thesis in the hope to continue a longer study during a PhD.”
“One day, when I’m back in Pakistan again I will build one or multiple schools to provide [as many as possible] children with education. I have experienced the importance of it myself and saw the crying need for accessible education back home. Another dream I have is to sponsor and enabling a child to study. But before I can make these dreams come true I need good education myself. Tilburg University helps me to focus on my study by this scholarship without the need to work on the side continuously. I can dive deep into my study now and start building my way to bring more educational possibilities to Pakistan one day.”
Update July 2017
“When I first arrived in Tilburg, there were quite a few things that took me by surprise. The weather, the amount of bicycles, the quite of city at night, to name a few. However, after having lived here for almost an year. These are the very things that I am going to miss. My time at Tilburg University has been truly memorable. Getting to study here has been a enormous privilege for me. I have had the chance to study along side students from very corner of the world, which has made me realize that at the core of it, we are not that different as we believe. The problems we face and the goals we strive to achieve are more similar across the globe than we think. My time here has lead me to challenge my abilities and grow into more of the person I hope I someday will be. This place has given me awareness and knowledge of the world that I have been a part of, some great memories and friends that I will forever cherish. This has been an epic year of taking classes all over the campus, spending more time in the library cafeteria than in the library itself, having picnics in the forest and just enjoying the good weather (whenever we had it). For that, I will always be grateful to Tilburg University – Regards Fizzah ”
Date of publication: 26 August 2021