Help Menuka Attend Webster University!

I was born and raised in Nepal which is a male dominated society. Since my childhood, I have been told that girls have to act and behave in "appropriate" ways. Though we say that men and women are equal, we still have a long way to go. For me, gender inequality is a huge problem in my society that needs to be solved. My mother always wanted me to be independent even though she never had the chance to be educated. My grandparents, however, are more traditional and were disappointed when they just got female grandchildren. This preference for sons motivated me to do things which most of my family members didn't expect from girls.

For example: At the end of high school, I joined 32 other girls from different parts of Nepal in Women LEAD Nepal's year long leadership development program. None of my family members had been in this type of training and since I am a girl, it was more surprising for my relatives and family members. With the support of Women LEAD, I was actively involved in advocating against street harassment and for women's empowerment through the leadership training. A lot of people supported me for my involvement in community work, however there were a few people who told me to focus more on my studies and that because I am a girl, I should not act like an activist and should behave like other high school girls. These comments encouraged me to become more involved in community work and break the stereotypical thinking of my community.

I took a gap year after high school to apply to study abroad because I wanted to challenge myself and see the world from a different perspective. After months of waiting I was selected into Webster University with a 50% scholarship. Getting into Webster with a 50% scholarship was a big thing for me but the remaining money I needed was still a lot for my family. I knew that my parents wouldn't be able to pay for my studies but after putting so much of effort in the application process I wasn't ready to give up. I didn't lose hope; I searched for every possible way I could go to university. At that point Wedu (a leadership development program for Asian women that also funds for higher education) came as a light of hope for me. Getting funds from Wedu was not easy: I went through several applications and two interviews to qualify for the funding. I had to wait for almost one month to know if my dream of studying at Webster would be fulfilled or not. For a whole month, the only thing I did was to wait and wait for the result. Every day I used to check my email and see if I got any reply from Wedu. That was the longest wait of my life because Wedu was my only hope for attending Webster. The fear, the tension, the tears, the anxiety I went through during those time is beyond language.

At the end, Wedu gave me a fund of $5000 per year for my study in Webster. I was really happy when I got the funding, however the funding was just enough for one semester and now for my next semester I need around $4000. The deadline for the payment is 13Th January 2014.

People say that money can't buy everything but for me money can give me a good education. I know I took a risk of studying in Webster because I was not sure about being able to afford it but for me the risk was worth taking. I am a freshmen in Webster now, so giving up is just not an option.

With my education I want to stand as an example for other young women in Nepal as a role model and an inspiration and I want to change myself as well. I want to make impact on women's issues and human rights in my country, and education is an important way for me to do that.

Please help me continue my education and become a strong young woman leader! All donors will receive an email update at the end of my semester: I will let you know how I did in school, my classes and my activities!

I was featured on The Guardian, here is the link to it:
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Menuka Gurung 
Arlington, VA
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