‘When I first saw a plane flying in the air, I was so inspired’

‘When I first saw a plane flying in the air, I was so inspired’
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Shopian girl Adeeba Tak is first Kashmiri to study undergrad course in aeronautics, on a full scholarship from a US university 

SHOPIAN: Some 300 meters from the house where lived Asiya and Neelofar, two girls who were abducted, raped and killed allegedly by men in uniform in May 2009, is the home of 17-year-old Adeeba Tak in Shopian town. Since July 2016, when Hizbul commander Burhan Wani was killed, Shopian district in south Kashmir has seen little else than killings of militants, civilians, policemen, street clashes and army crackdowns, public hartals and internet shutdowns, massive gatherings at militants’ funerals, and night raids by government forces during which homes have been vandalised, people assaulted, and youths, teenagers, elderly men dragged away by police. Amid such terror and chaos, Adeeba has won a full scholarship to go study aeronautical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) in the United States of America. She is the first student from Kashmir who will study an undergraduate course in aeronautical engineering.
“Since my birth I saw restrictions and violence here, but there should be dedication and a dream. I know it is not easy, especially for girls, but we have to fight for our dream. In Kashmir, we have to face many obstacles, one of which is people selecting particular courses and jobs for girls. I fought these obstacles,” Adeeba said while talking to Kashmir Reader.
Both of Adeeba’s parents are graduates. Her father works in the J&K State Forest Corporation while her mother works at home as a housewife.
Adeeba said that aeronautical engineering was her childhood dream. “When I first saw a plane flying in the air, I was so inspired. My parents initially wanted me to be a doctor, just like my sister who is currently studying for an MBBS in Bangladesh. But I made them understand that there is much else to do in the world. They finally agreed and supported me to every possible extent,” she said.
Adeeba said that only a well-trained guide and supportive parents will help Kashmiri children, particularly girls, in a situation so grim where violent incidents take place on daily basis.
She thanked the faculty of RISE, an institute for scientific education in Srinagar founded and managed by IIT alumni. Adeeba said that her teachers at RISE stayed in contact with her during the days of shutdowns and the long summer of the public uprising in 2016.
“I did not know about many things and fields of study, but I came to know about them at RISE. They were highly supportive and were always available for guidance at every step,” she said.
“A girl should be given equal opportunities as men. Nothing is impossible when we have the will to achieve. Stereotypes such as a girl can only be a doctor or a teacher should be broken,” she said.
Adeeba’s father, Nawshad Kaiser Tak, said that all he knew was that his daughter was preparing for the IIT entrance exam. “We came to know on Thursday, when we received an email from the university about the admission of my daughter,” he said.
Nawshad said that he used to share with his daughter every interesting thing he came to know through the internet or books. He said that his daughter had secured the 5th rank in the Board exams of Class 10 in 2015, and scored 476 marks out of 500 in the Class 12 Board exams this year.
Laila Gulshan, Adeeba’s mother, told Kashmir Reader that her dream was to give her daughters good education. She thanked RISE institute for being so supportive and helping her daughter make it to the University of Pennsylvania. She said she was staying with her daughter in Srinagar for the past two years to help her attend classes at RISE.
Raja Ishfaq, who was the field coordinator of RISE when Adeeba was selected to study there, said of Adeeba’s mother, “She is a brave lady. I know her as an extremely supportive and dedicated mother.”
Ishfaq said that Adeeba’s success had given credibility to the education provided at RISE. “Because of our different way of teaching, people had started to have doubts. Some even abused us and withdrew their wards from RISE. But today Adeeba has showed them what kind of education we want to give to students,” he said.
Chief Executive Officer of RISE Srinagar, Mubeen Masoodi, said that they discovered Adeeba when she came first among 18,000 students of the Valley who sat in the maiden talent search examinations conducted by RISE.
“We visited the Shah-i-Hamdan school in Shopian and spoke to the principal, as well as to Adeeba and her mother at the school. We told them that if Adeeba went anywhere else for coaching, her talent may go waste. Since then she is with us,” Masoodi said.
Masoodi, an alumnus of IIT Mumbai, said that everyone at RISE was surprised to see how supportive Adeeba’s mother was to her daughter.
“Our way of teaching at RISE is altogether different from that of other coaching institutes. But her mother always believed in us and kept herself informed of her daughter’s progress,” Masoodi said.
He said that students at RISE will derive confidence from Adeeba’s success. “It seems scarcely believable but we are very happy,” he said, congratulating Adeeba and praising her for always putting 100 percent in her efforts.