ISLAMABAD: U.S. Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer, Bettina Gorczynski, congratulated 127 Pakistani students traveling to the United States for undergraduate study as part of the U.S. government-funded Global Undergraduate (Global UGRAD) Program at a pre-departure briefing at the Marriott Hotel.

According to press release, the program builds the capacity of Pakistani youth through U.S.-based training and practical experience in leadership positions, community engagement, and in their professional fields. A total of 252 students will participate in this program during the 2015-16 academic year.

This group of 127 Pakistani Global UGRAD students of the 2015 cohort will depart early in January 2016. The United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP) manages the program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of State and invites Pakistani students to study for an academic semester at U.S. colleges and universities. The Global UGRAD program was launched in the Fall of 2010 when the first cohort of around 50 students departed for the United States.

"The really exciting thing about this group of undergraduates is that so many of these students come from remote or economically disadvantaged areas of Pakistan, and that more than half of them are girls," said Rita Akhtar, Executive Director of USEFP at the pre-departure orientation to help students prepare to study in the United States.

Akhtar noted that fifty eight percent of the students are women and that this group includes 127 candidates; 41 students from Punjab, 49 from Sindh, 13 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 8 from Gilgit-Baltistan, 6 from Balochistan, 3 from AJK, 6 from FATA, and 1 from Islamabad Capital Territory.

This group of students will pursue degrees in a wide variety of disciplines, including humanities and social sciences, engineering, basic sciences, law, art and design, economics, and business administration.

The students are attending more than 50 different colleges and universities located throughout the United States.

The undergraduate students gain the skills needed to implement long-term civic and economic changes in their communities, building stability through increased local capacity and cross-cultural understanding. More than 1000 students have participated in the program to-date.

USEFP is a bi-national commission established in 1950 by the governments of Pakistan and the United States. USEFP's mission is to promote mutual understanding between the American and Pakistani people through educational and cultural exchange. Since its inception 64 years ago, nearly 5,000 Pakistanis and more than 900 Americans have participated in USEFP-administered exchange programs.