From village school to University of Cincinnati
Two 18-year-old girls, who have studied in village schools in Maharashtra and who come from humble backgrounds, have bagged the University of Cincinnati (UC) Global Opportunity Scholarship of USD 150,000 (Rs 67.50 lakh) each to pursue bachelor's engineering degrees at the UC in Ohio.
Karishma Randhawe and Anjani Lahane will receive full scholarships, including full tuition, housing, meals, and airfare for a total value of over USD 150,000 each.
Karishma hails from Shirval village in Satara district while Anjani hails from Mangaon village in Raigad district. Karishma is the daughter of a labourer while Anjani's father is a farmer.
Both the girls faced a tough selection process and were shortlisted from 50 students belonging to rural areas of Maharashtra.
Karishma completed her primary education from Dnyansamvardhini High School in Shirval and her secondary school certificate (SSC) from Pune-based Laxmanrao Apte Prashala. She used to give tuition to pay for her studies. She will be pursuing engineering in bio-medical stream at UC.
It used to take Anjani 90 minutes of walking every day to her school in Mangaon and 90 minutes of walking back home. But the gritty girl was undeterred. She will now be pursuing computer engineering at UC.
Anjani says that she had always heard that the standard of living and education in the US was good. "I nurtured a dream since childhood to go to the US and, now, because of a divine intervention that dream has come true. Anjani stresses that she will come back to India and work for the orphans.
For Karishma, the scholarship has come as a "shocking surprise". Her father says how to educate Karishma further was his biggest worry. "That tension is now over," he says.
These are the first such scholarships and are offered to students with a proven academic track record. The UC will only make two awards every four years, and has decided to dedicate those awards to Indian students in its initial year.
"We chose India for many reasons, especially because Indian students have given so much to our university, and our country, that we want to give something back to India. We hope that the students receiving the scholarship will view this as investment in both themselves and India, and will return to India to put their education to work for others who are facing serious financial and social issues," says International Admissions director Jonathan Weller.
The UC partnered with the US-based non-profit organisation, "Lend A Hand India (LAHI)", to find these students.
Lend-A-Hand India is a non-profit venture launched in 2003 by young professionals. It is based in New York City and focuses on issues related to youth. The current focus of its programs is providing vocational training, career development, employment, and entrepreneurial opportunities for young boys and girls in urban and rural communities.
The UC Global Opportunity Scholarship is meant for students who are academically gifted, but financially disadvantaged. A rigorous selection process was followed to shortlist the beneficiaries for the programme.