Growing up in Malaysia, Nurain Yasim MSF’22 was motivated by the example of her mother, Maslina Mohamad.
“I grew up with strong women in my family,” she said. Her grandmother was a single mom who raised Nurain’s mother and uncle. And, Nurain saw her mother work hard to provide for her and her two siblings. “Even though my dad was in the picture, the family dynamic was really unbalanced, and my mom had to step up. That inspired me at such a young age to be as ambitious as I could and to work so hard to be successful.”
Nurain earned admission to a selective, semi-private boarding school in Malaysia, then earned a scholarship to attend college in the United States. “I’m the first woman in my family to go to higher education,” she said. “My mom did not have that opportunity nor did my grandmother.”
As she completes her master of finance degree at Babson College, Nurain continues to succeed and strive for greater opportunities, despite repeated setbacks and financial hardships. In September, Nurain shared her story in a deeply personal and compelling essay that helped her become the inaugural recipient of Babson’s new Grads Helping Grads grant, which is awarded to a graduate student with demonstrated financial need and a determination to pay it forward.
“It’s really hard to write something personal and be vulnerable,” she said, “because I had to recall some of my experiences growing up.”
Hardships and Setbacks
Nurain began her college education at a community college in Washington state, and after a year and a half, decided to transfer to Boston University. The week she got the offer, she called her mom to share the news. “That was the moment that she told me that she was proud of me,” Nurain said.
It also was one of the last times they spoke. Shortly after, during finals week, Nurain received a call informing her that her mother—her role model, her motivation—had passed away. She headed home to Malaysia, but her school couldn’t provide accommodations, and she was taking exams during a layover in Taiwan. “I missed the funeral.”
Nurain earned her bachelor of science degree from Boston University in 2020 during the pandemic lockdown. “It was a tough time,” said Nurain, who spent the summer interning for a company near Washington, D.C., while exploring her options.
“Having this experience at Babson so far has brought me big opportunities and learning experiences.”
Nurain Yasim MSF’22
With an eye toward a career in finance consulting, Nurain opted to pursue a master’s degree at Babson. Though she had received some financial help, she needed to take out a private loan—a “leap of faith,” she calls it—to finance the tuition.
“I know that was a lot of risk on my part, but I felt like I had to do that to find opportunities,” Nurain said. “Having this experience at Babson so far has brought me big opportunities and learning experiences.”
Nurain began the three-semester program at Babson in fall 2021, but quickly received some more bad news: Her father had passed away back in Malaysia. In contrast to the experience when her mother passed, Nurain said, her Babson professors and advisors were accommodating and continually checked on her.
“That’s what makes me feel like Babson was the right choice,” she said. “Having people and faculty that are really supportive of the students not just academically but also in their personal life, it makes such a huge difference.”
As the oldest of three children, Nurain also felt new financial pressures. “I am now the sole breadwinner of the family,” she said, “and I want to do my best.”
Sharing Her Story
Nurain, who officially completes her MSF degree this month, has been a revenue enablement intern at Evolv Technology in Waltham, Massachusetts, since June. Her manager helped encourage her to share her story in her application essay for the new Grads Helping Grads grant.
“I decided to share as much as I could, which is something that I was not comfortable with,” she said, “but in a way, it felt like a way to let it all out, too.”
The award, intended to be funded by Babson graduate alumni, has been spearheaded by Jessica Hose, the senior director of Graduate Student Services. She seeded the grant with a personal donation and helped raise additional funds from graduate alumni.
“As advisors, my team and I are able to support students with a wide range of resources. The one area where we are unable to provide direct support is financing. The creation of this fund helps close that gap,” Hose said. “In true Babson fashion, Grads Helping Grads started with an idea that garnered support and enthusiasm from colleagues in Advancement as well as Graduate Student Life and Leadership. Together, with the graduate class of 2022, we were able to bring the fund to life.”
DONATE: Support the Grads Helping Grads fund.
Nurain wasn’t sure how she would continue to make ends meet with her remaining tuition and other needs living in Boston. But then, in October, she was returning from her internship, crossing the Charles River on the Red Line, when she received the email informing her that she is the inaugural recipient. “It’s like the happiest moment I’ve had,” she said. “From a financial standpoint, it definitely helps so much.”
Now, she has some “breathing room” that also will help her take the exam to become a chartered financial analyst next year and even apply for a work visa to stay in the U.S.
Opportunity and Inspiration
Nurain, who missed out on her undergraduate graduation ceremony because of the pandemic, chose to participate in Babson’s graduate Commencement ceremony last May. Although she still had her final semester to complete, it was an important milestone on her journey.
“Choosing Babson was the right choice, because I feel like I grew so much personally and academically but also professionally,” she said.
In October, Nurain attended the Women’s Association of Venture and Equity career forum, which gave her additional insight into the need and opportunity for women in private equity. Now, she’s looking for full-time opportunities after completing her Babson degree. “I really want to pursue investment consulting or strategy consulting,” Nurain said. “I’m sure that I will try my best, and I won’t give up.”
The Grads Helping Grads grant will help. She also hopes that sharing her story may inspire others.
“It’s an honor to be the recipient of the grant, but it also felt like my story’s being heard,” she said. “If I can make it, there’s also young women who are trying to figure out their lives and can also feel like it is possible, and their stories can be heard.”
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