Growing up in the slums of Peera Garhi, Northern Delhi, India, pursuing Master’s from an internationally renowned academic institution located in a land far away was never on Abhishek Handa’s to-do list. But fate had surprises up its sleeve for this youngster. Abhishek’s ingenuity, talent and dogged determination saw him become the first recipient of the Sydney Scholars India Equity Scholarship, formed by the University of Sydney in collaboration with Asha Society in India. The scholarship, one of the most generous postgraduate coursework scholarships ever offered by an Australian university, will see
Abhishek start a degree in Master of Management (CEMS) from 2020 at the University.
Worth $60,000 (IND 2,930,000) a year, the scholarship covers the cost of postgraduate tuition fees, a place in one of the University’s residential colleges, flights, textbooks and health cover. It is only available to current residents of communities in Delhi, India where the Asha Society operates.
Speaking about the scholarship, an elated Abhishek said,“Never in my wildest dream did I imagine getting an admission to such a prestigious university! I consider myself lucky to
not only be the first recipient of this scholarship but also be the first student from the slums of Delhi to go to Sydney for a Master’s program.”
“Growing up, going to a university was the farthest thing from my mind because no one in my family had gone to one. Meeting the Asha team in my slum motivated, encouraged, and inspired me to go to the University of Delhi for further studies.”
Abhishek completed his Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from the University of Delhi earlier this year.
He added, “I began to study at the Asha centre instead of my home because they offered a quiet and safe environment for me to concentrate. They mentored and provided me with study materials which helped me excel in my exams.”
The young student acutely understands the destabilizing impact of crippling poverty on education and wants to use his story to inspire and empower others in similar circumstances. “It is my goal to help other youngsters living in disadvantaged communities, and I sincerely hope to inspire hundreds of kids to pursue higher education and build strong careers,” Abhishek said.
Abhishek was greeted by the University of Sydney’s Vice- Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence who was in Delhi to launch the scholarship and meet its inaugural recipient.
“We created the India specific scholarships because we recognize the vital importance of Australia’s relationship with India – an importance that will only increase in the coming years.
Creating an opportunity for the future leaders of India and Australia to study together at our University is one small way of supporting this relationship,” Dr Spence said.
“We also recognize that talent is not restricted to any particular social or economic background and that for many, the dream of studying internationally is just that, a dream. We hope that this scholarship will mean that financial need does not prevent a young person of outstanding talent from realizing their potential.”
Dr Kiran Martin, founder and director of Asha Society, started the organisation in 1988 to empower disadvantaged communities in Delhi and provide families a pathway out of
poverty. “Education is the only way to break the cycle of poverty forever and transform not only the individual but also their families and community. Proper education will lead to
good employment prospects and they will be able to access and enjoy a different world,” Dr Martin said.
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