This is the next segment of our blog series highlighting Microsoft Learn Student Ambassadors who achieved the Gold milestone and have recently graduated from university. Each blog in the series features a different student and highlights their accomplishments, their experience with the Student Ambassador community, and what they’re up to now.
Today we meet Momina Dar who is from Pakistan and recently graduated from the National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences with a bachelor's degree in Computer Science.
Responses have been edited for clarity and length.
When you joined the Student Ambassador community in 2019, did you have specific goals you wanted to reach, such as a particular skill or quality? Did you achieve them? How has the community impacted you in general?
Before I became a Student Ambassador, I was too shy about public speaking. I just couldn't stand in front of even 10 people and speak even if I had crammed for the whole thing. When I was selected to join the community and learned that we have different learning resources and we had to hold workshops so we can teach what we learn, that's when I thought to myself that no matter what, now is the time to step out of my comfort zone and break away from the hesitation. I organized live as well as virtual training workshops, and slowly my shyness went away.
Momina speaking at a Microsoft Imagine Cup Ready Peshawar event to promote Imagine Cup 2022.
Had it not been for this program, I don't think I would have been able to be so confident. What boosted my confidence were the monthly calls where I heard people from all over the world talking with so much confidence. This made me ponder that if they can do it, then I can do it as well. Once I was asked to share what I had done after getting promoted to the Gold level, and I spoke for a good five minutes. The program’s Community Program Managers really appreciated what I had done, which made me feel so good about myself and boosted my confidence at the same time.
What are the accomplishments that you’re the proudest of and why?
There are two accomplishments that I am the proudest of because both made me believe in women's empowerment.
In October 2020, I was promoted to the rank of Gold Student Ambassador. Being the first female Gold Ambassador from Pakistan and being given this recognition truly was an honor. It made me realize that hard work doesn’t go wasted.
Another accomplishment was when I was selected in 2021 to attend the virtual Grace Hopper Celebration, a five-day event for females in which there were several informative and technical sessions. This event was a big thing for me because I had never applied for or been selected for such a mega event before. It still brings a smile to my face because the days up to the event were full of motivation and enthusiasm. We were assigned great female Program Managers who made sure we all got to know each other and took full advantage of the conference. There were many companies on board, and you could talk to their employees. There was a database where everybody dropped their resumes, and companies who were looking to hire could easily access your resume and contact you directly if you have the skills that they are looking for. I attended some informative sessions and booked a one-one session with a tech employee who answered all my queries.
This whole event made me realize how powerful women can be, how they can be the best at their job, and how they can be an inspiration to other women. It also made me realize how strong the female community is and how we can achieve anything if we work for it.
What are you doing now that you’ve graduated?
Currently, I am in the middle of applying for a Masters degree in Germany. I plan on pursuing a Masters in Computer Science with a specialization in Data Science or Computational Linguistics. I do love research though, so maybe I'll switch my specialization at a later stage.
If you could redo your time as a Student Ambassador, is there anything you would have done differently?
If I could rewind time, I would have made more connections. I would have interacted and collaborated with people from different countries so I would learn more.
If you were to describe the community to a student who is interested in joining, what would you say about it to convince him or her to join?
The community is not just about learning new skills--there's more to it. You will get to learn A LOT, no doubt, but apart from learning, it helps you grow. It gives you the opportunity to interact with others, to organize events, to be a leader, and to increase your networking. Moreover, it's like a big family where you never feel out of place or that you don't belong. Everybody is always there to work with you and help you. There is no hierarchy or any restrictions in contacting the Program Managers or even the Global Program Manager, Pablo Veramendi.
What advice would you give to new Student Ambassadors?
Cherish every moment before you graduate. Make use of the opportunity you're blessed with. Learn, teach, and grow.
What is your motto in life, your guiding principle?
I believe in giving my best. I believe in it because hard work always pays off, it never goes to waste. If we put our heart and soul into something, it always comes back in a good form.
What is one random fact about you that few people are aware of?
I love nature so much that sometimes I talk to plants when I am in a good mood. They don't talk back though. It's not that I don't have friends, I do but I feel like I have a different type of connection with plants.