Thursday, May 5, 2011

International student grad earns US State Department accolades

Shamshad Hussain, a Pakistani citizen who attended Daytona State College in 2008 during a yearlong Community College Initiative Program, has been named May Alumni Member of the Month by the U.S. State Department, which sponsored the international exchange program.

Shamshad Hussain
Hussain was recognized for his work as executive director of the Grassroots Association for Community Empowerment (GRACE), a Pakistani non-profit which mobilizes marginalized communities to promote education and a peaceful society. The State Department noted Hussain’s commitment to “encouraging others, especially alumni of U.S. government exchange programs, to empower and improve the quality of life in vulnerable communities.”
 “It was an honor to represent Pakistan in the U.S.,” said Hussain, who completed coursework in hospitality, tourism and management while at Daytona State. “The ultimate impact was my broadening vision and firm mission to make a difference in my society.” 
Upon his return to his hometown region of Gilgit-Baltistan, Hussain initiated numerous community service projects, was elected president of the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network Gilgit-Baltistan Chapter, and took on the role of coordinator for the local U.S. Embassy’s English Access Microscholarship Program. The region is located in a remote part of northern Pakistan that struggles with transportation and security issues. Hussain volunteered to launch the scholarship program because he recognized that many of the children living in his region lacked English language skills, a professional disadvantage in a multi-lingual country where many businesses and government jobs require employees to speak English. Since the program began, professional and educational opportunities for Gilgit-Baltistan’s underprivileged children have significantly expanded due to Hussain’s commitment to his community, according to the State Department.
In October 2010, 100 alumni of the Gilgit-Baltistan region organized a local chapter of the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network. As president of the group, Hussain arranged a series of seminars designed to guide women on how to enroll in international education scholarship programs. More than 800 female students attended the seminars, the first of their kind in Gilgit-Baltistan.  As a direct result, the number of applicants from Gilgit-Baltistan to the State Department’s Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program and the Community College Initiative Program significantly increased.  
“Through his work with the alumni chapter, underprivileged students and the local community, Hussain has become a role model for his fellow Pakistani alumni and an instrumental force in promoting mutual understanding between the U.S. and Pakistan,” the State Department spokesperson noted.