Va­hani of­fers fi­nan­cial sup­port and per­sonal men­tor­ship: Reeva Misra

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - Education - HT Cor­re­spon­dent let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com ▪

Founded in 2014, Va­hani schol­ar­ship is a not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion work­ing to fur­ther the ed­u­ca­tion and prospects of chil­dren from un­der-priv­i­leged back­grounds in In­dia. Its mis­sion is to send In­dian stu­dents who come from un­der­priv­i­leged back­ground to the top uni­ver­si­ties across In­dia. Reeva Misra, an Ox­ford and Yale alum­nus, is the CEO and Founder of Va­hani Schol­ar­ship and has lead­ers like Ra­jeev Misra, CEO of SoftBank Vi­sion Fund, on its board. Misra shares her vi­sion and fu­ture plans for Va­hani. Edited ex­cerpts:

What is the pur­pose and vi­sion of the Va­hani Schol­ar­ship?

Va­hani cur­rently has 83 stu­dents in higher ed­u­ca­tion across In­dia, its mis­sion is to fa­cil­i­tate ed­u­ca­tion to 20 chil­dren per year. We take a two-pronged ap­proach: full fi­nan­cial sup­port com­bined with on-go­ing per­sonal men­tor­ship. By cre­at­ing a close-knit com­mu­nity of schol­ars with ex­cep­tional tal­ent, the or­gan­i­sa­tion hopes to cre­ate lead­ers who will be the in­spi­ra­tion and agents of change in their lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

We also con­duct two work­shops in Delhi a year which bring to­gether the stu­dents to en­able close men­tor­ship, coun­selling, train­ing, lead­er­ship and skill de­vel­op­ment. As well as these or­gan­ised ac­tiv­i­ties, we have a group of ex­pe­ri­enced men­tors and tu­tors who pro­vide guid­ance and coun­selling through­out their ed­u­ca­tion and dur­ing the tran­si­tion from school to col­lege. We pro­vide each scholar with in­tern­ship op­por­tu­nity, ca­reer coun­selling, CV train­ing and in­ter­view prepa­ra­tion. We have our first five grad­u­at­ing schol­ars this year and our first scholar has been se­lected to work at Ernst & Young.

How do you iden­tify the schol­ars and what is the se­lec­tion process?

We be­lieve that the schol­ar­ship should be awarded to those who have ex­celled aca­dem­i­cally and over­come se­ri­ous life hard­ship. We se­lect lead­ers who show un­tapped tal­ent that when har­nessed, will cre­ate a spirit of in­no­va­tion sec­ond to none. That spirit, when recog­nised, cared for and men­tored is a mas­sive power source, a power that will pro­mote the in­di­vid­ual and change so­ci­ety. The se­lec­tion for schol­ar­ship is based on merit and means. The stu­dents have to sub­mit an in­ten­sive ap­pli­ca­tion form, which is thor­oughly re­viewed by our team and the short­listed ap­pli­cants are in­vited for in-per­son in­ter­views in Delhi. Our in­ter­view panel con­sists of in­di­vid­u­als from di­verse fields. The fi­nal list of schol­ars is re­leased af­ter a de­tailed dis­cus­sion on each ap­pli­cant, bear­ing in mind their fam­ily in­come, grades and po­ten­tial for lead­er­ship. These stu­dents are given con­di­tional schol­ar­ship, for which they need to score above 90% in the 12th board ex­ams and ad­mis­sion in the lead­ing uni­ver­si­ties of the na­tion.

What has been the im­pact so far?

Va­hani Schol­ar­ship is 5 years old and our first batch of schol­ars grad­u­ate this year. Our schol­ars are study­ing in the top col­leges across the coun­try. Each batch has stu­dents pur­su­ing a va­ri­ety of dis­ci­plines like engi­neer­ing, art, de­sign, and com­merce. Their jour­ney in life and as in­di­vid­u­als has com­pletely taken a new path as soon as they have en­tered col­lege. We can no­tice a huge trans­for­ma­tion in each one of them as they grow more con­fi­dent, ar­tic­u­late and aware. Most of them have gone back to their com­mu­ni­ties and have in­spired oth­ers to con­tinue their ed­u­ca­tion and do well.

What are your fu­ture plans?

We hope to build a strong net­work of Va­hani alumni, who will be­come change lead­ers in so­ci­ety in what­ever field they choose to go into and fu­ture brand am­bas­sadors of the schol­ar­ship. We hope they will be­come agents of change in their lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, cre­at­ing greater aware­ness of the im­por­tance of ed­u­ca­tion. We have been ex­tremely lucky to have built a pas­sion­ate team who strongly be­lieve in the vi­sion and to as­so­ciate with lead­ing in­di­vid­u­als in dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries who sup­port us. We would like to con­tinue to build our team of men­tors and lead­ers so that we can pro­vide the schol­ar­ship stu­dents with the most pres­ti­gious and valu­able guid­ance through their for­ma­tive years of col­lege. Va­hani over the years has be­come a big fam­ily, with a strong sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity, love , care, re­spect and de­vo­tion for each other and each year our fam­ily tends to grow as we get new schol­ars, men­tors and vol­un­teers join­ing us.

▪ Misra in­ter­act­ing with Va­hani stu­dents at a coun­selling ses­sion

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