Dubai teen wins full scholarship to Brown University

A 17-year-old Pakistani boy was declared the winner of Just Falafel's Help Us Help You community outreach campaign, launched in January 2012.

Aqil Rashid’s dream of getting into an Ivy League school became a reality, courtesy of the UAE-based company Just Falafel.

The 17-year-old Pakistani from Dubai was declared the winner of the Help Us Help You community outreach campaign launched in January 2012, which offered an academic scholarship.

The initiative was open to anyone interested in higher education. Students from all over the world submitted a two-minute video message explaining why they deserved the prize and how they would someday give back to the community.

When he applied two years ago, Aqil devoted most of his time to building drinking wells in remote villages in Afghanistan.

On Sunday, Just Falafel announced that Aqil had been accepted to Brown University, a private Ivy League research university in Providence, Rhode Island. Among its graduates are John D Rockefeller Jr, John F Kennedy Jr and CNN founder and media mogul Ted Turner.

Aqil said he felt “ecstatic, blessed and grateful” for the opportunity, and promised to make the most of it. The prize, awarded when he was in Grade 10, acted as an incentive for him to pass his exams. With hard work and determination Aqil scored straight As in his exams and gained offers from several American universities.

He said it was a tough decision to choose among Brown, the University of Pennsylvania, UCLA, UC Berkley and Emory.

He recalled waiting for the decision, constantly pressing the refresh button on his computer to see if he had won and running to wake his parents with the news after Just Falafel contacted him.

The award, which pays fees for a university anywhere in the world, forced him to get organised quickly. As soon as he won, he began researching universities abroad.

Aqil said he is interested in a technology-related course of study, and his passion is determining how technology will be shaping the world when he graduates in four years.

He is looking forward to university life and thinks his multicultural upbringing and education in Dubai will make the transition to being an overseas student easier.

“In the UAE you are exposed to many different cultures and cannot afford to be narrow-minded,” he said.

Published: May 4, 2014 04:00 AM


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