Suman Ansari (right) with Elysa Bryen of Hale Education, which helped her secure admission to NYUAD for free. Image Credit: Hale Education Group

Dubai: Following a spell of uncertainty, a Dubai schoolgirl has got a chance to pursue university studies after her parents had to move back to Pakistan for her father’s cancer treatment.

Suman Ansari, 19, a final-year student at Deira International School, was recently awarded a scholarship worth $77,000 (around Dh282,000) to study at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD).

A few months ago, Ansari, who lives in Dubai with her two elder brothers, had resigned to the possibility that she would not be able to attend university here and move back to Pakistan.

Her case came to the attention of Hale Education Group, a consultancy that prepares students for entry into American universities, which helped her — free of charge — secure admission to a university of her choice.

Ansari is a high-achieving student, having scored 43 out of 45 in a trail of the school-leaving IB (International Baccalaureate) exam, which she will sit for next month. She is also active in extra-curricular activities — she has cofounded an essay club, established a yearbook club, and organised charity events at her school.

While her parents returned to Pakistan last year, Ansari stayed on with her brothers — both working professionals in their 20s — so she could at least finish school here. Ansari faced an uncertain future because she could not have afforded leading universities in the US or the UK, nor a prestigious varsity here.

“I had very high aspirations to go to a good university. If I didn’t get a scholarship, I would have gone to a normal one or moved back to Pakistan, most probably. I was looking at the best universities but I couldn’t have afforded them,” Ansari said.

“I basically had to tell my school the whole situation, what was going on in my life. My school counsellor was adamant I look for scholarships … She contacted Hale and Hale offered to help me out.”

With application deadlines looming, Ansari had just a week or so to prepare for the SAT required for US university admissions. Ansari, who is from Karachi, said the time between late last year and her NYUAD acceptance last month was “pretty intense”. However, “super-helpful people” at Hale guided her through the entire process, she added.

“When I went in, I knew nothing about US applications. I didn’t even know I had to take SAT. Hale just came in with so much help and advice, I genuinely couldn’t have done anything without them. And they did it pro bono, so that was especially helpful.”

Elysa Bryen, an educational consultant at Hale who worked with Ansari, said after sifting through the options, “we agreed NYUAD was the top choice for her, also because of the proximity to her family and the financial aid … She got in, which was fantastic”.

Bryen said as with Ansari, at Hale “we like to help talented, hardworking students pursue a brighter future. Here, we had an opportunity to help pro bono. It was exciting to work with [Ansari]. She is a phenomenal writer, which helped her in this process too”.