Teach For India Creating Leaders In The Classroom And Beyond

While many assume that completion of the Teach For India Fellowship leads to career options that are strictly limited to the education sector, Teach For India’s alumni have proven that assumption incorrect. They have gone on to become entrepreneurs, worked with the government, joined prestigious MBA programs, led corporate projects, among many other diverse roles in the education sector.

In this article, we spoke to two Delhi University graduates who joined the Teach For India Fellowship Program after completing college and as alumni of the organization, are continuing to create impact by leveraging the skills and knowledge they gained in their two year stint as Fellows.

Here, we interview Nikita Sehgal, a Psychology graduate from Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University.

  1. What are you doing currently?

I’m working as an Executive Assistant to the Chief Program Officer and just got accepted into ISB – Hyderabad for the MBA program.

  1. How you were able to identify your interest area in the education sector and how did you work towards that shift in your current job role?

I have always liked building partnerships, pitching ideas and getting people excited about my ideas! I also really enjoy meeting new people and getting to know their stories. Hence, combined with my interest to work more in the education space, recruitment at Teach For India seemed like a natural fit for me, post the Fellowship. Over the course of my work in recruitment, I also discovered that I had an interest in and knack for data and research, which led me to work with the Strategy and Learning Team.

  1. What was your Background before Fellowship (educational and professional- if any)

I completed a Bachelor of Arts (H) in Psychology before joining the Fellowship.

Teach For India Creating Leaders In The Classroom And Beyond

  1. How were you motivated to join the fellowship and which skills did you gain during in those 2 years?

I was motivated to join the Fellowship because I wanted to do something challenging and push myself beyond my comfort zone. I was motivated to learn and grow as a person from this experience. I gained some vital skills  like relationship building, vision-setting and executing achievable goals, planning, reflection and continuous learning through processes.

The Teach For India community has some exceptionally smart and talented people – access to that network has been one of the biggest gains.

  1. What has been the greatest learning as a Fellow? Any highlights from the 2 year Fellowship?

Putting yourself in difficult, challenging albeit meaningful situations brings out the best in you – these situations compel you to be creative, resourceful, build and sustain investment and reflect and improve continuously. I built invaluable  relationships with children and their parents,and am still in touch with my kids and these connections that I will take with me wherever I go!

  1. What is your message to applicants hoping to become Fellows?

The Fellowship Program is an outstanding opportunity and what you gain from it will depend on what you are willing to put in. It is hard and challenging, but it has the potential to be the most meaningful and transformative experience of your life if you want to push yourself to learn and grow as a person, create impact that stays with you and  meet some amazing, like-minded people. This may be the place for you!

Teach For India Creating Leaders In The Classroom And Beyond

We then talked to Shruti V, a graduate from Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies, Delhi University, who is working as a social entrepreneur today!

  1. What are you doing currently?

I am a social entrepreneur and Co-Founder at Khwaab Welfare Trust, which empowers artisan women to maintain independent sources of income to support their families.

  1. Please share your educational and professional qualifications.

I obtained a Bachelor of Business Studies at  Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies between 2010-2013 between the Fellowship. Right after, I served as a Fellow between 2013-2015. I then was employed as a Program Manager at Teach For India’s Delhi staff from 2015 to 2017. Following that, I became a Consultant to Community Aggregators with Teach For India, Delhi between 2017-2018.

  1. How were you motivated to join the fellowship and which skills did you gain during in those 2 years?

During my graduation, I got an opportunity to join Enactus; a global student committee that creates impact at the grassroots level through entrepreneurship. During my three-year tenure with Enactus, I got the privilege of managing ‘Sanitation Solutions’, a project that connected women entrepreneurs from under-resourced communities in Delhi with manufacturers of sanitary pads. By reducing the number of intermediaries in the supply chain, the women of the community received good quality pads at cheaper rates and as entrepreneurs, they earned a living in the process. The entrepreneurs also spread awareness in the community about the advantages of using pads over dirty cloth, ash, and coconut husk, making the intervention sustainable. This was the time when I first got a chance to see the depth of development issues in India’s urban slums; the interconnectedness between factors such as poverty, health, education, gender, governance and so on. It was devastating to see teenage girls miss school due to not being able to purchase pads, young mothers having vaginal infections due to the usage ofunhygienic cloth, social stigmas such as referringto period blood as ‘bad blood’ getting strengthened and weak implementation of government policies that profited the richinstead of the poor. These experiences made me want to work in the development sector and helped me realize my life’s vision – to see a world without poverty, a world where people have access to the necessities of life. In order to increase my understanding of various development issues at the grassroots level, I joined the Teach For India Fellowship.

  1. What has been the greateTeach For India Creating Leaders In The Classroom And Beyondst learning as a Fellow? Any highlight from the 2 year Fellowship?

When I started my Fellowship in 2013, I was placed as a second-grade teacher in a government school in Mandawali, Delhi. The path to achieving my vision of providing holistic education to my 48 students was filled with hurdles such as high level of student absenteeism, lack of parental investment, unsupportive school staff, poor quality of infrastructure and frequent social outbreaks in the community. Seeing the abysmal state of education in school, I decided to invest in people to create sustainable impact. With the help of vision creation exercises, consistent staff meetings, extra-curricular activities, interactions with government authorities, home visits and after-school classes, I was able to increase and strengthen stakeholder investment. Once that happened, I witnessed a huge shift in stakeholder mindsets and behavior. These stakeholders provided immense support during the two years that culminated into my students’ learning levels increasing by 50%-60% across all subjects from the baseline I began with. Such experiences helped me develop the below-mentioned principals that I now consciously apply in my current role such as practicing active listening to gain diverse perspectives, building win-win partnerships in which both parties engage in an equal amount of giving and take, being solution-oriented than problem focused, communicating with compassion and empathy, and knowing when to problem solve.

  1. What is your message to applicants hoping to become Fellows?

It will honestly be one of the greatest life-changing experiences that you will ever have.

Teach For India creates large-scale impact in communities, but also empowers Fellows to hone their skills, build leadership capabilities and contribute positively to the education landscape in the country.

To apply to the Fellowship, visit https://apply.teachforindia.org/ and fill out your application by March 24th 2019, 10 PM IST

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