Hindustan Times (Lucknow)

Vahani offers financial support and personal mentorship: Reeva Misra

- 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
▪ Misra interactin­g with Vahani students at a counsellin­g session

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