By Alexander Lewis and Huda Usmani
Managing Editor Editor and Staff Writer
The Muslim Student Association (MSA) in cooperation with Counselor Sheema Majiduddin from the Counseling Services department hosted special guest speaker and winner of the Hult Prize, Sr. Gia Farooqi, in the College Center lounge on Nov. 29 from 10:30 a.m. to noon, as part of Islamic awareness week, which lasted from Monday, Nov. 27 at 9 a.m. to Wednesday, Nov. 29. at 2 p.m.
The day before was marked by guest speaker Imam Kaiser Aslam, Rutgers University MSA Chaplain.
Farooqui was accompanied by her teammates Hasan Usmani and Hana Lakani.
As of September, Farooqui and her team were this year’s winners of the Hult Prize, a global contest aimed to better the whole world.
Farooqui said that they aimed to better the lives of refugees by restoring the dignity of refugees through their business model “Roshni Rides,” a solar-powered rickshaw business model designed to aid refugees in Pakistan with accessible transportation.
She said that the prize was $1 million to fund their model, awarded to them by former president Bill Clinton.
Farooqui said that the hijab can be a barrier to professional life.
Pursuing her ambitions with Hijab, she said she believed that it would be a detriment for her, but it turned out that it wasn’t.
She said that while it is a predicament to be a visible Muslim in Trump’s America, four out of the six finalist teams had a visible Muslims on their teams.
Farooqui said that her and her teammates are all supply chain management students but instead of sticking with a nine to five, they wanted to use their skill sets to directly contribute to the world.
They started their project in Oct. 2016 and pursued the transportation industry, said Farooqui.
She said that bike sharing in Jordan was their initial plan, but they changed their model to focus on the Asian country with the largest number of refugees, Pakistan.
When asked why she believes that her team won against the other 50,000 teams who competed, Farooqui said that she believes her team triumphed because they had great teamwork.
The members were also very familiar with each other since they had already worked together for three years on other projects prior to preparing for the Hult Prize said Farooqui.
Farooqui said that there were a lot of sacrifices from every member involved for them to be able to put all their time and effort into the finals.
When asked how they had come up with their project name, Farooqui said that the main language of their target consumers is Urdu.
She said that the word “Roshni” in their project title is Urdu for light.
Farooqui said that they want to create light in the lives of our customers by giving them the privilege of transportation, something that we take for granted every day.
“These people are survivors and are already doing whatever they can, and we are here to just lighten their burdens,” Farooqui said.