Access to education – their springboard to a better life

  • Shailja Katyal Verma
  • Published 20/02/2023
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Student beneficiaries of Purkal Youth Development Society who are now receiving full scholarships at UPES

They defied the odds and indigent circumstances to redefine their future. Nurtured by Purkal Youth Development Society (PYDS) and UPES, they are progressing in their academic journey and rapidly transitioning into skilled professionals, ready to take on the world

Astha Rana is a 3rd-year student of B.Com. (Hons) in Banking, Management and Insurance. Her dad is an electrician, while her mother runs a shop that sells cosmetics and bangles in Gajiyawala Village in Sahaspur Block of Dehradun, besides supplementing the family income through her tailoring work. After she starts working, she wants to take her mother for a vacation as she is fond of travelling.

Akash Pal, a 2nd-year student of B.Tech. Automotive Design Engineering, has won several state-level painting competitions and is also a member of the basketball team. He finds the environment at the university liberating as it gives him free access to the labs which had restricted entry in school. His mother is an artisan who makes cushions and quilted blankets under Project Purkal. He aspires for a well-paying job so that his mother does not have to toil to make two ends meet.

Amisha Chauhan, who is in the 4th year of BA LLB, is specialising in Energy Laws. She envisions her future as a corporate lawyer or a civil servant and wants to ensure a “stable life” for her sisters and her mother.

Anchal Tailwal is a 2nd-year student, pursuing B.Tech. CSE with specialisation in DevSecOps. She is a member of several student chapters, including the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). She likes to play basketball and participate in personality development workshops in her free time. Her family owns a groceries shop.

They are all students who were nurtured in their early years by Purkal Youth Development Society (PYDS), a non-profit in Dehradun, and are now receiving full scholarships from UPES to continue their higher education journey.

UPES’ association with PYDS began in 2018 under Project Protsaahan, and to date, 15 students have benefitted from the initiative. These students belong to families with meagre means. Their will to succeed despite their impoverished circumstances has made them an inspiration not just for their families but for the community at large.

Says Rahul Nainwal, Director-CSR, UPES, “It’s heartening to see how they have transformed and are now leading fulfilling lives. The impact of this initiative is evident in the success stories of these students, who have overcome significant barriers and are now contributing to society. This initiative not only provides access to education but also empowers young minds to dream big and achieve their goals, regardless of their background.”

Protsaahan was institutionalised in 2019 and now supports two PYDS students every year. The courses for which support is available include all programs of B.Tech., Integrated LLB, BBA and B.Des. Under the project, UPES bears all costs, including academic and tuition fee, hostel charges, uniforms, laptops, one-time charges as well as the refundable security, for the entire duration of the course. The annual bursary under this project is ₹ 10-15 lakh per PYDS candidate. This includes a stipend of ₹ 20,000 to be given to the candidate during his industry internship as per the curriculum.

The project takes care of the entire fees of two students, provides stipend during internships, a faculty to mentor and monitor academic and co-curricular progress, and a member from the Career Services team to assist in internships and placements.

Priyanka Bhatt, who did her B.Tech. in Electronics and Communication Engineering (2018-2022) at UPES, is today working as Associate Engineer with Silicon Labs in Hyderabad. “I joined this company in June 2022, and I have had a good experience so far since it is related to my core domain. Later on, I might think of pursuing M.Tech.,” she says.

Aayushi Verma, who studied BBA (Core) at UPES School of Business, is now Head Coach at Leverage Edu in Noida. In 2016, after her father had a paralytic attack, life took a new turn for Aayushi Verma.

“There was hardly any hope and I could barely see any light coming through. But as we say, good things happen when we least expect it. The same happened with me when I got a chance to study at UPES,” recounts Aayushi Verma. After detailed applications, written assessments, followed by a Group Discussion and Personal Interview (GDPI), Aayushi got the confirmation of a 100% scholarship. The scholarship covered hostel fees, uniform, books, industrial visits and other expenses.

For most of these kids it is about securing a better life for themselves and their loved ones.

Lucky Singh, a native of Haridwar who joined B.Tech. CSE this year, is determined to meet the diverse group of learners on campus and enhance his social skills. His father, a farmer, is responsible for the family of six, including his two sisters, mother and grandmother. He wants to work towards a career in cyber security, besides learning to play the guitar.

Anshit Mamgain’s story is no different. He joined UPES with the dreams of “expanding his horizons”. His father, a schoolteacher, wanted him to join the defence forces, but he could not make the cut due to medical issues. And it was just as well, because he had dreams of becoming a coder. He now wants to ensure a secure future for his grandmother, mother and two younger sisters.

The shadows of their past have not dimmed their spark. They are banking on education to give them an egress from hardships. They may have had humble beginnings, but their aspirations are sky high. And UPES, upholding its cherished values of inclusion, equity and diversity, is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that they realise their dreams.

Shailja Katyal Verma
Shailja Katyal Verma

The writer is a part of the UPES editorial team

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