Sidra Iqbal Receives Two Scholarships from Silicon Valley Community Foundation

by Sidra Iqbal '11, Menlo College student

Sidra Iqbal, a junior at Menlo College majoring in Accounting, was the recipient of two scholarship awards from Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The Crain Educational Grants Program ($5,000) and the Curry Award for Girls and Young Women ($1,000) both recognized Sidra's highly self-motivated style of personal leadership, despite tremendous obstacles. Sidra had applied for the Curry Award, and SVC Foundation invited her to apply for the Crain grant. The awards were given to students from highly prestigious institutions of higher learning. The following is a personal reflection written by Sidra, similar to the essay written for the Crain Educational Grant.

Understanding the role of empathy in a workplace allows me to build trust-based relationships with others and results in a positive form of networking. I am a witness to the need for having the opportunity to build connections. I see my own father working 18 hours a day trying to provide for our family. Observing him motivates me to go to college to grow as an intellectual individual and frankly, to help me gain financial freedom.

In addition to being able to network, my success in college will come from having excellent time management, keeping goals in mind, and being open minded. Time management provides time for me to multi task and enables me to live a proactive lifestyle. Keeping goals in mind constantly reminds me about the things I am working hard toward.

Being open minded allows me to take other perspectives, understand them, and grow as a person with a better knowledge of the diverse people and surroundings in society.

After getting my CPA, I plan on working and gaining as much experience as I can so I can open my own accounting firm. I will also continue applying and honing my accounting skills in my work as a part-time accounting clerk during my years of study. Another long-term goal is to have financial freedom for my family, especially for my father, who should be relaxing in his old age instead of being burdened with continuous stress. Being successful will also allow me to give back to the community by mentoring children and motivating them toward education.

The two years that I have attended Menlo College have changed me as an individual. Holding student leadership positions like Day Student Representative for the student government, volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula and North San Mateo County, and serving as Vice President of the Ethics in Action Club helps me to be a strong, confident, and effective leader. I am also the President of The Beatniks Book Club, which is a book club that consists of faculty and students who come together after reading a novel and share their insights. This past summer, I had the privilege of attending the LeaderShape Institute, hosted by Dominican University, which provided many enriching opportunities to explore my own leadership style.

Being an independent individual and an efficient leader did not come easily. I had to take on the role of a leader in my household at the tender age of sixteen when my mother passed away from cancer. Instead of breaking down and crying in a corner, I realized my role the moment I saw the tears in my four-year-old sister’s eyes. Knowing that I could not let her feel alone, I stepped up and took charge of the household. I learned to put myself aside and put my family’s needs first. At the same time, I managed to maintain my grade point average and stay on the honor roll. This experience truly helped me grow because it made me realize a purpose that was bigger than I. My faith is the main thing that helped my get through this tragedy; if God wanted my mother back, then I had no choice. On her death bed, my mother made me promise to do my best to take care of my father and my siblings, especially my baby sister. The promise kept me focused and kept me going each day, as well as my faith. Even though it has been unbearably hard without her, I am keeping my promise and taking care of my family.

Having something precious taken away from me motivated me to go and get things in life and enabled me to transform from a careless child to a young motivated woman. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation will help me take one step further in college and make a huge difference in me as a person who rises to the occasion.