Real life experience. Had opportunities to have face-to-face interactions with amazing souls last month. Our assignment was to short-list candidates for award of scholarships for the undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Engineering. A large corporation launched this initiative this year. Had lots of learnings. However, three candidates left an indelible mark on me; they are nothing less than celebrities. Let us just recognize them as Celeb 1, Celeb 2 and Celeb 3 (cannot reveal real names for obvious reasons.)

All candidates have impeccable academic credentials. Admitted to premier institutes in India in Engineering and all had completed the First Semester. We had been given clear criteria to evaluate. What follows are impressions and learnings in single one-on-one interactions with each of them.

Celeb 1

Studied at School in night and with the help of illumination of a single mobile in family. Was living in village and attending a school near-by. Perennial power cuts being a norm; that did not affect him. Found a way to study wherever he could locate lights.

No one to guide or interact to help him understand the career options. Single minded focus on securing top rank in Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) Main and JEE Advance. And succeeded in doing so.

Bought his first Laptop after admissions. Had to learn how to operate and work through by reading on Google. Have friends now at the Institute who help him. For the first time, he can interact with someone to get answers to his questions.

Asked penetrating questions to us. Mostly to understand the large picture to help him ascertain his next steps. And by no means a small feat, displayed reasonable confidence, curiosity and command over English language.

Celeb 2

Father is a Tailor; Mother is homemaker and elder Sister enrolled in Engineering. Parents supported him for coaching of JEE. Secured very high rank and admitted to an IIT.

Being a BPL (Below Poverty Line) family, got tuition waver for studies. However, on further inquiry, talked about his family background and struggle to meet the boarding, lodging and expenses for taking online courses of choice (To get Certificate for completion, typically online courses charge a fee)

Mother will sell her jewelry to support him if scholarship does not materialize. Parents already supporting daughter for Engineering degree in their home town.

During interactions, noticed sweat on his forehead after a while. Asked him to switch on the Fan. His response is clear demonstration of his preparedness. Told us that it makes a lot of noise and will cause audible disturbances in our V-con. We felt very sorry and did our best to conclude the call at the earliest. He was sweating profusely as heat in his town was at its peak.

Celeb 3

Comes from a middle-higher income family; pursuing degree at another IIT. Very pleasant to talk to. Did not face any adversities as such.

Incredible level of energy and enthusiasm. Enrolled in various clubs and groups in the very first semester. Developed an Android App for one of the current burning issues, as a learning exercise on his own.

Clear drive to extend his reach beyond academic pursuits. Great understanding of his goals while involved with a Hobby Club on campus.

Visible and evident drive to excel. An inspiration for those who are not facing an adversity and, therefore, utilizing available opportunities to grow.


Have been very fortunate to interact and get inspired by three talented young souls. Till now, had only read or heard in News about students achieving excellence in spite of many struggles. Face-to-Face interactions with such souls is a blessing; not to say that impact it makes is beyond words.

Coming from humble background and faced with adversities in matters that most of us take for granted, two of these Celebrities delivered a perfect punch to win their fights. Of course, cannot forget but express gratitude to their parents for coaching them to build tenacity.

All three have Fire in the Bellies that need further fuel. I will do my bit. Just waiting for Green Signal from stakeholders.

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