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Ashoka Alum Gurmat Singh Brar wins the Felix Scholarship to pursue MPhil at Oxford

Gurmat Singh Brar, an alumnus of the Ashoka Scholars Programme, from the batch of 2021, has received the prestigious Felix scholarship to pursue his M.Phil in Politics (Political Theory) at the University of Oxford. He talks about the role of Ashoka University in shaping his future in academia

I clearly remember walking out of my first class at Ashoka back in 2017. At that moment, I knew I was in a special place. The openness, emphasis on critical thinking, and the professor’s ability to take us, first-year students, seriously as equals in the enterprise of seeking knowledge, made the classroom a remarkable space for intellectual inquiry. And I think it is these virtues that make Ashoka a great institution.

The great thing about a liberal arts programme is not just its freedom to curate one’s own degree, but also the way it treats a student as an individual. I arrived at Ashoka as someone who had a general interest in humanities, but because politics was never offered as a subject in school, I could have never imagined that I would end up studying politics at university.

It was during my first semester that I took a course on social and political formations, and I was just captivated. Then began a four-year tryst with the political science department. In my second year, I was elected as a student representative for the political science department and had a wonderful year where I had the opportunity to defend the interests of students at the beginning of the pandemic and during the shift to online teaching.

Ashoka’s community was warm and welcoming, and I am grateful to have forged friendships for a lifetime. I think it is impossible to excel academically if you do not have the support around you. More than the classroom, it was the gym, the Dhaba, and Fuel Zone where I had the best moments which will forever be etched in my memory. I was just lucky to have received empathy and generosity from people around me.

In particular, I will forever be indebted to my professors. I was lucky to have studied under some incredible scholars who were always encouraging and supportive. In fact, had it not been for the mentorship that I received during my ASP thesis from my advisor, I would never have had the intellectual courage to even think of imagining life in academia.

As I prepare for my graduate studies at Oxford, I am extremely grateful to life for these four years and everything that Ashoka has given me. I only hope that I am able to give something back to the world in the coming years. And above all, ensure that I abide by the values of intellectual freedom and public service that are core to every student associated with the university.

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Study at Ashoka