Bangladeshi Student Nadia Abbasi Pursues Her Dream Assisted by a Queens College Business Forum Scholarship

— Honors Graduate Laura Burke Receives Queens Chamber of Commerce Foundation Scholarship to Continue Business Studies at QC —

FLUSHING, NY, June 21, 2012 – Born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 21-year-old Nadia Abbasi is aware every day that she managed to beat the odds. Because her father was a college professor of economics and political science, her family had decent living conditions. But as a child, she played with poor, malnourished friends who lived in tents and drank polluted water.  After moving to the U.S. at the age of five, Abbasi faced her real challenges – her father had to stop working because of a serious heart condition and her mother juggled two full-time jobs while caring for the family.

And yet, the Queens College math major is now on her way to fulfilling her dream of a college education and pursuing a business career that will enable her to improve the lives of the homeless and others less fortunate than she. A QC Business Forum (QCBF) scholarship is helping her achieve these goals. “I see this scholarship as an investment in me, and I have a responsibility to give something back,” says Abbasi.

Growing up, Abbasi lived with her parents, older sister and other relatives in a two-family house in Hicksville, L.I. Despite her family’s financial problems and the difficulty of learning English and getting used to different customs and a new way of life, she never lost sight of how lucky she was.

“Living in the overcrowded, busy streets of Bangladesh, I never imagined I’d be fortunate enough to come to America and attend a university which offers such a wealth of opportunities for self-discovery and academic advancement,” says Abbasi. “At Queens College I’ve met so many inspiring professors in the Business and Liberal Arts (BALA) program and math department whose courses were life-changing for me. I learned business management, critical thinking, communication and problem-solving skills that will be indispensable in my future pursuits.” 

Abbasi shoulders a full course load while working as an assistant for the college’s Percy Ellis Sutton SEEK program. This past January she landed an unpaid internship at the U.N.’s Permanent Mission of Bangladesh, where she met diplomats trying to solve health, environmental, and other problems in her native country.  Abbasi, who plans to graduate in 2014, has her immediate sights set on becoming an actuary. Her ultimate goal is to open a nonprofit business that would combine a homeless shelter with a vocational educational center. The QCBF scholarship will help pay off her student loans, fees, books and living expenses.

Laura Burke, 22, is the first recipient of the Queens Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hank Auffarth Scholarship, which recognizes superior academic achievement and community service and supports advanced business studies. Burke, a married mother with a two-year-old son, graduated this past February from QC with a 3.8 GPA in accounting and information systems. This summer she will take the last of her certified public accountant exams while completing a paid internship in audit and forensic advisory work at KPMG LLP, a leading national audit, tax, and advisory services firm. In the fall, the Flushing resident will begin work toward an advanced degree in risk management at the college. 

“This scholarship will help me attain my master’s and prepare for my chosen career while I continue to volunteer at such organizations as the Alley Pond Environmental Center and the college’s alumni relations office,” says Burke.

Both scholarships were presented at the college’s recent Business Forum breakfast.  Since 2006, the QCBF scholarship has been awarded annually to one or two deserving students enrolled in one of the college’s business programs. The selected student(s) must have a record of outstanding academic performance and demonstrate an enthusiasm and/or appreciation for his/her chosen field of study.  

Launched in 2005, the QC Business Forum brings together the business community, local government, academia, and students to provide an opportunity for town and gown to interact. Influential leaders in a number of fields serve as keynote speakers at its breakfast lectures, touching on issues vital to the Queens business community. 

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Contact: Phyllis Cohen Stevens
Deputy Director of News Services

Maria Matteo
Assistant Director of News Services