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YIF Chronicles: Gender, Leadership, and a Journey of Empowerment

Nehal Agarwalla looks back on her YIF journey and teachings as she prepares to join SOAS University of London as Chevening Scholar

Nehal Agarwalla (YIF’21) has received the prestigious Chevening Scholarship and is all set to be pursuing an MA in Gender Studies at SOAS University of London.

Along with that, Nehal has also received admission offers from some extremely distinguished universities abroad:

  • Cambridge University, MPhil Modern South Asian Studies
  • UCL, MA Gender, Politics and Representation
  • University of Sussex, MA Gender and Development
  • CEU, MA in Critical Gender Studies (Merit Scholarship)

When asked about her experience at YIF, she had much to say about her transformative journey. Nehal shares, “I came to YIF as a radical feminist and recent history graduate from Delhi University’s Lady Shri Ram College For Women. However, my year-long fellowship and involvement with the institution not only aided in the development of my academic understanding of gender issues but also transformed my perspective on issues of inclusivity and leadership. Professor Dwight Jaggard’s “Foundations of Leadership” course and Dev Tayde’s “Grassroots Community Service” were revolutionary in many ways. Though their pedagogical methods and course objectives differed, these courses taught me how to reconcile my social values with my passion to work towards gender justice.”

Chevening is a prestigious, fully funded scholarship awarded to individuals with leadership and networking abilities.

According to Nehal, other courses that profoundly affected her were “Women, Society, and Changing India” by Prof. Urvashi Butalia and “Ideology Seminar” by Prof. Simeon. Not only were they academically rewarding for her, but they were also mentally fulfilling. Throughout these classes, she engaged with abstract concepts like justice, equity, love, and inclusivity while understanding their systemic implications that helped her bridge the theoretical-practical divide.

A common phrase for the YIF programme is ‘the fellowship never ends’. Like many others, the “fellowship never ended” for Nehal. She worked as a teaching assistant alongside four distinguished faculty members. “Each time, being on the other side of the classroom provided me with exceptional joy as I nurtured my passion for teaching and discovered ways to give back to this community”, said Nehal.

Following YIF, she dedicated much of her time to historical and feminist research and advocacy. Throughout this research process, she says that she found herself returning to the teachings from her fellowship journey, whether it was her critical writing class notes or my experience working on the ELM project.

“As I move to the next chapter of my life, I am grateful for the amazing women and mentors who have shaped me. It was through my interactions with each of them that I learned the most, be it the strong community of 3000 people (non-binary/womxn folks) at LSR, my peers, or the faculty members and staff at Ashoka who work behind the curtains” said Nehal when asked about the journey that she is going to embark upon.

Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka