When The Women's Forum— a community where preeminent New York women leaders of diverse achievement come together to make a difference—was granting 2012 education scholarships, Bibechana (Bibi) Basnet decided to apply for one.
Thank goodness she did.
Last semester, Basnet, a Business Administration major who grew up in Nepal, was named a 2012 Women's Forum Education Fund Fellow, and received a $10,000 scholarship. (The other BMCC student who received a 2012 fellowship was Shannon Barrows.)
“The Women’s Forum inspires women from all over the world to fulfill and achieve their dreams and goals,” says Basnet.
Basnet, who currently attends Columbia University where she’s majoring in Economics—was a standout scholar at BMCC. She enrolled in college later in life, after facing some personal obstacles back home in her native Nepal.
She views BMCC as her “second chance.”
“I previously worked as a flight attendant for Qatar airline, which taught me patience and discipline, and also helped me to ‘zone in’—skills I brought with me to BMCC and Columbia,” she explains. “I loved the job, but felt I needed more; I needed my degree.”
Mentoring and leading
“In my scholarship essay, I wrote about life in Nepal and how I wanted to establish a firm ground for myself after BMCC,” she said. “Additionally, I wrote about the education I received at BMCC. The professors are so vibrant and embrace diversity. They’re outstanding—and I stand by this statement even now, as a Columbia student.”
Basnet also outlined her volunteer activities. At BMCC she was an active member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and was an Each One, Reach One mentor.
“I was paired with a mentee for three semesters, which was very inspiring and motivating for both of us,” says Basnet. “These leadership experiences were part of my stepping stones to success.”
Extension of goals
English Professor Jane Clark wrote a letter of recommendation for Basnet’s scholarship.
“What sets Bibi apart is her sense of obligation to the larger community around her. Her goals are not limited to herself, but extend to those less fortunate than she has been,” says Clark. “Bibi worked and attended school full time, but she still found time to tutor others."
She adds: "Her dedication to helping classmates, even as she struggled herself, prefigures a career that will fulfill her dreams, as well as enable others to achieve theirs.”
Ethnic Studies Professor Nicholas Ofiaja, who wrote a Columbia University recommendation for Basnet, calls her work ethic “outstanding.”
“Bibi also worked for the Office of Accessibility and would help students in my African Civilization class with their note-taking and assignments,” said Ofiaja. “Their grades improved thanks to her assistance."
Moved by Gandhi
After she completes her studies at Columbia, Basnet hopes to return to Nepal to establish a school for young women.
“Women have come so far, but in some ways, still have to fight for their place in the world,” she says. “I want to help other young women realize that no matter how rough the roads may be, keep striving forward to make your dreams come true. I draw inspiration from the Mahatama Gandhi quote, ‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world'.”