As the largest corporate supporter of Asian University for Women’s Access Academy program, MetLife has made higher education accessible to socially and economically disadvantaged women throughout Asia and the Middle East.
April 4, 2017, Chittagong, Bangladesh – Executives of MetLife Asia convened at Asian University for Women (AUW) to engage with students and faculty in the Access Academy program. In attendance of this visit were Chris Townsend, President, MetLife Asia; Md. Nurul Islam, Regional Senior Vice President, Head of Bangladesh, Nepal & Myanmar; Syed Hammadul Karim, Chief Marketing Officer & Deputy General Manager, Bangladesh; Md. Jafar Sadeque Chowdhury, Chief Distribution Officer, Bangladesh; and Faria Mahbub, Senior Officer, Brand and Communications, Bangladesh.
Chris Townsend commended the achievements of Access Academy, AUW’s foundation year of preparatory courses focused on English communication skills, critical thinking, problem-solving, and strategies for life-long learning. These skills are essential for success in AUW’s rigorous liberal arts and sciences undergraduate program and multicultural residential campus.
Access Academy makes higher education accessible to women who have not had access to sufficient educational resources in their lives prior to AUW. “Many of the students who come to AUW have made the most of educational systems that, on their own, could never truly prepare them for university-level studies. These women deserve a chance to apply their indefatigable work ethic and passion for justice to higher-level studies, no matter the restraints they may have faced during secondary education. Not only does the Access Academy teach students to value other cultures and perspectives through group work and advocacy projects, but it also allows us to show compassion for students who are rich in promise even if their origins are humble,” AUW Vice-Chancellor Professor Nirmala Rao said.
“My journey at AUW so far has been truly amazing. I have learnt to look at things from many perspectives, not just one. I developed reading skills and knowledge about the world and its history. I have learnt to make new friends and embrace their culture. I found myself to be a very different person within these few months in Access Academy. Studying in a class room full of girls from completely different countries has made me believe in the power of togetherness. It is hard to express what it feels like to study with a bunch of girls with different stories and struggles. In short, getting admitted into AUW is the best decision I have made, and I could never imagine myself to be any better than what I am today because of AUW,” shared Syeda Reiyan Azim, an Access Academy student from Bangladesh.
As the largest current corporate supporter of AUW’s Access Academy program, MetLife is a model for other private sector organizations to make long-term investments in women’s education in the Asia-Pacific region. The economies of developing Asian countries have experienced profound growth in recent years, and this trajectory is expected to continue. To capitalize on this growth, it is essential for large multinational companies like MetLife to invest in the people who are local to the communities where they operate, develop brand recognition among a growing Asian middle class, and ensure there is a pipeline of emerging leaders and professionals to support the company’s growth and success.
“AUW is based in Bangladesh, an important market for MetLife, and many AUW students come from countries in Asia where MetLife has operations. Partnering with AUW gives us the opportunity to support talented women to further develop and maximize their potential,” Chris Townsend shared.
MetLife’s support of Access Academy has allowed AUW to develop a talent pool of dynamic, skilled professionals who are prepared to work for large companies like MetLife and aid in the human and economic development of the region. “Knowledge is one of the key focus areas of MetLife Foundation’s strategy. We believe that while classroom-style adult education is important, it is enhanced by what we call ‘edu-action’ – the chance to put learned behaviors into practice and to learn by doing. We are proud to partner with AUW, an organization dedicated to teaching these young women real-life skills beyond just a classroom education,” said Dennis White, President and CEO of MetLife Foundation, in 2016.
AUW is grateful to MetLife for making higher education accessible to underprivileged women throughout Asia and the Middle East. As one of the largest global providers of insurance, annuities, and employee benefit programs, we hope MetLife’s example will lead to more collaboration opportunities between AUW and the private sector.