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Pakistan's Sidra Khan Makes the Most of Semester at Wilson

Posted: March 23, 2012

Sidra Khan is attending Wilson College for the spring 2012 semester through the U.S. Department of State’s Global Undergraduate Exchange Program in Pakistan.

A sophomore at Punjab University in her home city of Lahore, Pakistan, she is studying environmental sciences and hopes to become an environmentalist, working to save the planet.

Though Sidra is passionate about the environmental field now, her first career choice was medicine. But when she wasn’t admitted to one of Pakistan’s highly competitive government colleges, she looked for an alternative.

“I thought if I’m not a doctor, then I have to do something really extraordinary in my life,” Sidra said. “I want to help Pakistan to face the global challenges and I want to contribute my part to make Pakistan independent in the field of environmental science.”

Sidra is active in her homeland, co-founding Green Minds and serving as a coordinator for the Pakistan Sustainability Network, both environmental organizations run by Pakistani youth. She is also a member of the Youth Parliament of Pakistan, an initiative founded by a well-known singer to engage youth and encourage them to make a change in the future.

Sidra comes from an upper-middle class family. Her father is a government officer and her mother, a former teacher, is currently a homemaker. Sidra has six siblings, including a twin brother.

“My mother and father help us to be good human beings. They want us to be a good person, a good Muslim and then a good Pakistani,” she said. “After my God, my parents are the most inspiring and motivational source for me.”

The Global UGRAD-Pakistan program provides its students with one academic term of non-degree undergraduate U.S. study. Students are chosen on a highly competitive basis and represent a diverse group of emerging student leaders from underrepresented sectors of Pakistan.

As part of her obligation to the exchange program, Sidra is a cultural ambassador, giving presentations about Pakistan and its culture to local community groups. She also performs community service at Penn Hall and at Wilson’s Child Care Center.

“People are very curious. They have lots of questions to ask and I love to answer their questions,” Sidra said. “It’s a very good opportunity to show them where I’m from and what I’m all about.”

As for her Wilson College experience, she said it has been eye-opening in many ways.

“It’s a great and challenging environment, I must say. The studies are very challenging,” said Sidra. “These are some of the golden moments of my life that I am spending over here. I am happy that I’m going back to Pakistan, but I am sad because I will miss the United States and my friends here.”

After earning her bachelor’s degree, Sidra hopes to return to the U.S. to get a doctorate in environmental sciences.

Last Updated: March 23, 2012