Shadhika Shadhika

They say that I am brave, that I am communicative. That I am talented. And I am so happy for this change.

When She Leads: Vanitha

May 7, 2024

Reading Time: 5 minutes

This interview is part of our When She Leads: Shadhika Scholar collection. Learn more.

Last year at the 2023 Leaders for Change Summit, we met with Vanitha to ask how her experience of participating at the Summits over the past few years has been. Vanitha is a Shadhika Scholar from Shadhika’s local partner Baale Mane in Karnataka. and is pursuing a B.Com degree as well as doing an internship at a travel company. She was interviewed by Communications Manager Urmila Reghunath.

How has the Summit been for you?

This is my second summit. My first summit was in Kolkata. It was really great because that was the first time I traveled in an airplane. Traveling by airplane was a big dream for me and Shadhika made my dream come true.

First, I traveled to Kolkata, where the summit was super awesome. During the three days there I learned many things, interacted with new people and it gave me confidence. It gave me a boost and the courage to speak up openly with new people. And now in 2023, I’m in Vadodara. I’m so happy to be gathered here once again, meeting people and I’m still learning!

What is an impact you have had on your friends/community due to your attendance at events like this?

I have talked about attending this Summit to the people at my college. I’ve told them about how with Shadhika’s financial support I am able to pursue education. So when I told my friends this, they said ‘yeah, even in our family we don’t get this. We are also trying hard. They [Shadhika] are doing a really great job.’ 

But one of them dropped out actually from the B.Com. course. When I told them to pursue their dreams, they are continuing their education again now. Despite their family saying no to them. I told them that pursuing studies is not restricted to a particular age. One can continue after marriage also. 

Wherever I go, I always tell my friends that at any cost to not discontinue their education. In some cases parents are not supportive of their children continuing education. In other cases, students do not value the educational opportunities they are able to access. That is the thing, in our society, some people have access to opportunities, while others are looking for support to access the same opportunities.

What is something you would want to tell our supporters about why they should support initiatives like this?

Education is really important right now. In my family nobody has studied beyond the 10th grade. I see them struggle to read documents, to apply for anything, to fill up forms, to open a bank account… They have to depend on somebody for these essential tasks. And it takes a lot of time. Time lost waiting for someone to be willing and available to support them on each of these occasions. I believe that literacy and education are very important. To be able to read and write is a foundational skill to know your rights and advocate for them. And to access education, armed with this skill, holds tremendous potential. Potential to learn about one another, to respect each other’s differences, and to think more broadly about the most complex problems of our world. This can require practice sometimes. But, with an education, I feel that we are able to move from darkness to light, from ignorance to acceptance.

How would you describe your journey as a leader among your community, among your friends in your class?

I was never somebody who talked much before. I used to sit alone and read lots of story books. There is a saying – ‘Everything we have inside. It has to come out at the right time, around the right people’. It’s only after I became a Shadhika Scholar that I started interacting with people. Today I am learning a lot about photography and videography and I post actively on Instagram. Those who used to point out how reserved I was before can appreciate me for who I am. They say that I am brave, that I am communicative. That I am talented. And I am so happy for this change.

With the help of the Shadhika scholarship and Baale Mane, I was exposed to many opportunities to increase my self-confidence, to believe in myself and my abilities to decide my own future. And on the days when I still doubt myself, I know I can count on Baale Mane to stand by me and remind me that I can do it.

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