An Evening of Gratitude: Celebrating the Impact of Philanthropy on Higher Education in Pakistan

Amidst the bright lights of Houston, Texas, there was an air of excitement that filled the atmosphere. It was an event that would not only honor the contributions of those who have made it their life’s mission to change the fate of the future of education in Pakistan but would also pave the way for the next generation of scholars.

Habib University on February 17, 2023 held An Evening of Gratitude – Acknowledging Habib University’s Mohsineen, hosted by Shoukat Dhanani, CEO of the Dhanani group and member, board of governors, Habib University – a momentous opportunity to express appreciation and gratitude to Habib University’s Full Named Scholarship donors, whose unwavering support has opened doors of opportunity for countless deserving students.

Donors of Full Named Scholarships are individuals who donate scholarships to Habib University in their name or in the name of their loved ones, leaving a lasting impact on the students they support. This directly impacts the lives of the beneficiaries and reflects the donors’ personal commitment to advancing education and making a positive difference in the world.

The evening encapsulated the beauty of gratitude; a powerful and transformative force that can profoundly impact individuals and communities. It is the recognition and appreciation of the good things that we have in our lives, and the people who have helped us along the way. The theme of gratitude at this event is a reminder of the importance of acknowledging and valuing the contributions of others, especially those who have dedicated themselves to improving the lives of others. It is a call to action to express our gratitude, and to cultivate a sense of appreciation for the world around us.

At the center of the evening’s celebration was Habib University’s Talent Outreach Promotion and Support Program (HU TOPS). This program provides 100 percent scholarships to students from local examination boards, making higher education accessible to those who may not have had the chance otherwise. In a country where 1 in 10 students cannot afford to go to university, HU TOPS is a historic opportunity that is transforming the lives of Pakistan’s most deserving students.

According to a report by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan, only 9% of the country’s youth are enrolled in higher education institutions, with a majority of them coming from urban areas. This leaves most of the population, especially those from rural areas, unable to access quality higher education. Limited financial resources, lack of educational facilities and infrastructure, and low literacy rates further exacerbate the crisis, leaving many young people without access to personal growth and socio-economic mobility.

This evening also served as a reminder of the immense challenges that we face in ensuring equitable access to quality education for all, and the role that each of us can play in creating a brighter future for the youth of Pakistan.

The guests were treated to a series of inspiring speeches. Ms. Aqsa Junejo, Assistant Director and Head of Marketing and Communications Department, expressed her gratitude to the donors, stating, “The impact of our donors is immeasurable. Each contribution has enabled us to empower deserving students to achieve their dreams, no matter their socio-economic background. The generosity and commitment of our donors inspire us to work harder, to dream bigger and to make a greater impact.”

The President of Habib University, Mr. Wasif A. Rizvi, graced the evening with his speech. He emphasized the historic opportunity that Habib University offers to students. He continued by saying, “Habib University has come a long way from being an idea to becoming a reality. We are proud to be the only community-owned institution in Pakistan, and our commitment to the values of Yohsin, which include gratitude and gratefulness, is at the heart of everything we do. We are grateful to our donors who have supported our mission of providing access to higher education for disenfranchised students in Pakistan. The impact of their generosity is immeasurable and will continue to ripple through the lives of our students and the communities they serve for generations to come.”

Mr. Shoukat Dhanani, CEO of the Dhanani group and a member of the board of governors at Habib University, spoke about the importance of philanthropy in creating a more equitable society. He emphasized the immense value of giving back to the community, stating that, “Philanthropy is an essential tool for creating a better world. By investing in education, we invest in the future of our society. Each contribution we make, no matter how small or large, has a lasting impact on the lives of individuals and the community.”

Dr. Reza Aslan, a scholar, and an avid supporter of Habib University’s cause, spoke about the importance of giving in Islam. He stated, “Giving is one of the most important values in Islam, emphasized in both the Quran and the Hadith. The beauty of giving in Islam lies in the fact that it is not limited to financial giving. It also includes giving of one’s time, knowledge, and skills. I am honored to be part of this event and to see the impact of our giving on the future of education in Pakistan.”

Dr. Asim Shah, a member of the host committee and a donor himself, expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to give back to his community. He spoke about the power of education in transforming the lives of the most disenfranchised members of society and how higher education could play a pivotal role in shaping the future of Pakistan. Dr. Shah said, “It is a privilege to be a part of an institution committed to breaking down the barriers to higher education. The impact of our contributions can be felt in the lives of countless students who have benefited from the opportunities provided by Habib University.”

Habib University is inspired and humbled by Mr. Zain and Ms. Farzana Jeewanjee, whose visionary trust in the University’s mission has led them to create a legacy. Through their generous endowment of the ‘Imam Ali (a.s) Faculty Chair in Hikma and Humanities,’ they have empowered the University to pursue its intellectual goals with much more passion and dedication.

The evening culminated with a special moment to acknowledge the lasting impact of the Full Named Scholarship donors. Each donor was presented with a memento as a token of appreciation for their generosity and commitment to making higher education accessible to all. Habib University remains grateful for the support of its donors and is committed to continuing its mission of providing world-class education to deserving students in Pakistan.


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