Founder of Roshni Academy
Hijri 1406-Present (AH); Common Era 1986-Present (CE)
Saima Hasan graduated from Stanford University with a political science degree in 2008. While a junior in 2007 at age 21, Saima was tutoring students in the impoverished area of East Palo Alto, California and was struck by the disparity between that community and the extreme wealth, knowledge, and success of nearby Silicon Valley. This inspired her idea for the Roshni Academy, a non-profit program funded by Silicon Valley business leaders and philanthropists to transform the lives of underprivileged girls in seven districts of Delhi, India. It identifies, trains, and mentors highly intelligent girls from low-socioeconomic communities. By cultivating confidence, social, critical thinking and general life skills, the program empowers students to create opportunities for themselves, overcome obstacles, and reach their highest potential. After development, in June 2008 Saima traveled to India numerous times to execute the first pilot program of 30 students. Early in 2009 she moved to India to develop Roshni, and in 2010 the program is expected to reach 4,000 girls in four states. The students all live in poverty while achieving top academic standing, and undertake intensive six-month training. The curriculum ranges from public speaking and conflict management to hygiene and includes computer and internet basic skills. At the end of training the Nurul Hasan Foundation awards scholarships to the top 60 students. In 2011 Saimaplans to launch an American form of the program in the US, starting with East Palo Alto. Before Roshni, Saima served as director of grassroots fundraising for Steve Westly’s campaign for governor of California and as an analyst at a hedge fund called Sterling Stamos in Menlo Park for that state.