HerSTEMStory: Shafaq Arshad

Shafaq Arshad, a senior year Computer Science student at FAST Lahore, is a trailblazer and a woman of strength.

Pakistani Women in Computing is honored to share her story of strength, resilience, and persistence to fulfill her dreams against all the odds and all the challenges that came her way. More power to you Shafaq!

YES, YOU CAN and YOU WILL!

“You can’t” is the word that has haunted me for most of my life. It was more of the shackles that hindered me than my own disability.

“You can’t do O’levels Shafaq, why don’t you try out less expensive options”

”You can’t go to a university Shafaq, you know it is way out of your comfort zone”

”You can’t go to the Google TechMakers conference, Shafaq, you can’t hear anyways so why even bother”

I admit that I did let go of some these opportunities that came my way because of the people around me always telling me that I can’t do certain things in my life.

When I got accepted for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, I was very excited, but then again I was bombarded with all those million reasons that why I shouldn’t go to a foreign land as a girl with a disability. “What if you get hurt, who is going to take care of you?” Then, I had to think about my parents too. They would get so worried. With a heavy heart, I let go of once-in-a-lifetime kind of opportunity to attend the GHC.

But I am not doing that anymore!

To all those girls who are told “you can’t do this”, I say to them that “YES, I DID, I CAN AND I WILL!” Not only that I finished my O and A levels with 10 A’s, but I also went to a university that provided almost no resources to the people with disabilities and still managed to be one of the top students in my class. I believe that no one other than myself can decide what I can or cannot do in life. Kick the “t” and the apostrophe and turn your “Can’t” into “You Can”! Keep reminding yourself that you can do anything you set out to do and unlock all these shackles that are slowing you down.

When I got another opportunity to attend GoogleWomen Techmakers conference, I focused on “Why I CAN and SHOULD go for this opportunity and fulfill my dream of being part of Google”. And Viola… the best decision ever! At the WTM conference, I got the opportunity to meet a number of inspiring women tech-makers and listen to their stories and what I found was I was not alone as other women also go through these experiences and face similar obstacles throughout their lives and careers. What we need the most is to share and listen to these stories that will help us remove these doubts and grow together. Help yourself and help each other! It’s an amazing experience to step out of your comfort zone and experience the blessings of life.

Go, women!

About the Authors

Shafaq Arshad, a senior year CCS student at FAST-NUSECS Lahore and the Google WomenTechmaker and GHC Scholarship recipient. She wrote her own story.

Huma Hamid, a tech-maker mom and Co-founder Pakistani Women in Computing. You can reach out to her via LinkedIn and Twitter.

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