Hindustan Times (Lucknow)
Vahani offers financial support and personal mentorship: Reeva Misra
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.