Hafiz Ali Naeem Sheikh: the NOP Scholar who Topped the CSS Exams 2021
The story of Hafiz Ali Naeem Sheikh (BSc 2017) is an extraordinary tale of resilience, optimism, and hope.
With a Matric from Government Central Model School, Lower Mall and an Intermediate in Pre-Engineering from Government College University, Lahore, LUMS was a distant reality for him. However, on the insistence of a friend, Ali decided to apply and take the admission test. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Ali gained admission to LUMS through the National Outreach Programme (NOP), which seeks out bright and talented students from every corner of Pakistan representing a wide range of educational and socio-economic backgrounds. The Programme provides these scholars with full financial assistance that translates into almost 140% support, covering full tuition fee, living stipend, books, boarding and lodging for their undergraduate studies at LUMS.
“I come from a humble background and without the NOP it would not have been possible for me to attend LUMS. Even if the University had asked me to pay 5,000 rupees, I would have preferred going to some government university due to financial constraints,” he recalls.
The NOP Centre played an integral part in helping Ali acclimatise to the new environment; the staff provided guidance and support to settle on campus. He was advised to join student societies, and form deeper connections with people from diverse socio-economic and academic backgrounds, which helped him gain confidence.
At LUMS, Ali was selected for the Near East and South Asia Undergraduate Exchange Program (NESA UGRAD), a part of the Global UGrad Scholarship Program in the USA for a year. It was during the fully funded exchange programme, Ali recalls, that he decided to pursue the civil service. “In the USA, I saw the dignity of the common man and how the state works for the betterment of people. Every official department that I visited there
was so polite and efficient in solving issues of the citizens that it made me realise the gravity of the problem faced by us Pakistanis and how much apathy exists in our government offices. Thus, I used this motivation and started preparing for the CSS exams after returning to Pakistan.”
He adds, “The NOP is not a scholarship but an attempt to bring change in society. Every NOP scholar has had a trickle-down effect on the communities they belong to. Through this programme, stakeholders have an opportunity to find and train talented individuals who have the desire to do something extraordinary but lack the resources to do so.”
Ali looks forward to creating change by serving in the Pakistan Administrative Services. He advises students to never doubt their path and maintain honesty in all their dealings. “Whatever you do in your life, always keep an eye on the bigger picture; humans are just a tiny part of the cosmos. The world is much bigger than individual egos and ambitions. Your actions should be directed towards bringing positivity to the world and helping those who are less fortunate.”