Life After Ashoka: Suganya Sankaran
"In the Fellowship, I was surrounded by people who pushed me to be the best and who pointed me in directions I would not have considered. " says Suganya Sankaran, Young India Fellow, Class of 2017
Age 23: staring at a close-to-empty bank account and wondering if I wanted to work in the education nonprofit sector — this was me during the start of the Young India Fellowship. I was hopeful that the Fellowship would provide me with the answers I was seeking for.
Age 24: staring at an empty bank account and still wondering if I wanted to work in the education nonprofit sector — this was me during the end of the Fellowship. Nothing seemed to have changed externally, but I knew that something had changed even though I couldn’t find the right language to it articulate it.
Age 26: still staring at an empty bank account but convinced that working in the education nonprofit sector is the right thing to do — committed and driven towards closing the opportunity gap in education.
Two years post YIF, I feel like I’m on a magical, special journey. (As a part of Vidhya Vidhai foundation in Chennai, I work with under-resourced schools, enabling and transforming them to provide quality education for the children). Every single day I find a whole new world of love, joy, laughter and leadership with the teachers and children I work with. As I’m trying to answer what quality education looks like, I’m exploring so many questions around what the children and teachers need and who I can be for them.
There were countless number of times the journey has been tough. I have struggled to teach; I have struggled to learn; I have been at cross-roads often, not knowing which path to take.
I had to reflect to find my light in this path of mine. It has been, and is still is, so hard to explain to people — friends and family — “what” this path is. I had to learn to lead by values and beliefs and aligning my actions to it. I had to maintain an indomitable sense of hope and possibility for myself, for the teachers and the children even on days I felt defeated.
And through all of these, I have realized that I do it all because I have the courage to make these decisions and I have the belief in myself and the people I work with. Looking back, the most importantly, the Fellowship gave me the courage — to dream big, believe in people and their potential and hope for what the world should be like. In the Fellowship, I was surrounded by people who pushed me to be the best and who pointed me in directions I would not have considered.
I, and the organization I work with, really believe in providing schools the space, resources and time to lead the change they believe in. And in retrospect, I think this is what the Fellowship did to me as well — providing me the space, resources and time to lead the change I believe in.