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Giving back to society

Kusum Kanojia, Dec 18, 2012, DHNS: 18:54 IST

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By their side: IITians help engineering and medical aspirants from economically weaker sections.

When it comes to cracking entrance exams for IITs and other top engineering colleges, only acade­m­ic performance is not eno­u­gh. A combination of in­t­elligence and determination are need of the hour for students vying for a seat in reputed educational institutions. And who knows this better than ex and current IITians.

In their attempt to ‘give back’ to society, a group of old and present students of IIT have come together to help economically weaker students prepare for medical and engineering entrance exams – for free. Through their organisation Avanti, they find talented students from different sch­o­ols, help them getting enrolled in a coaching institute and be there with them as mentors.

The Delhi chapter of Avanti started operations in 2010. A new team of volunteers and mentors is formed every year. For the current session which began in April this year, there are 55 volunteers who are mentoring 44 students prepare for engineering entrance exams. Each mentor is assig­n­ed only a couple of ‘mentees’ so that the focus does not get diluted.

Nishika Garg, a final-year electrical engineering student at IIT Delhi, leads in finding academically sound students from economically weaker backgrounds, through three-level tests.

“We understand that a lot of students have the capability of making it to IITs but they don’t have the guidance or money to spend on coaching and emotional support. We go to different schools where we can find such students, conduct tests and meet their parents. If they qualify, we get them enrolled in a coaching institute for free,” she shares with Metrolife.

Those who have cracked the IIT understand that only coaching is not sufficient. Motivation, conversation and an emotional support complement it too.

Mohammed Imran, a second-year Computer Science and Engineering student, has been mentoring a school student Yogesh Yadav, whose father is an electrician.

“The idea is to develop a bond with the fellow, like a friend and motivate him so that he or she shares everything. Someti­m­es, if he doesn’t understand any specific chapter in the coaching institute, I help him. Once or twice a week, he comes to the campus and sometimes I visit his place. Initially, he wasn’t doing very well but after we started talking a lot, his performance has impr­o­ved,” he says.

“While preparing for entrance exams, it gets frustrating and one feels like having somebody by his side. I always felt the need for someone who could provide mental support. They should know if they are going in the right direction. That is why I decided to mentor Yogesh,” add Imran.

Avanti was started by Akshay Saxena, currently on sabbatical from Harvard Business School and Krishna Ramkumar, a senior associate with Boston Consulting Group and both graduates from IIT-Mumbai, to help students from economically weaker backgrounds realise their dreams.

Now, many like-minded individuals have joined them in the cause. Besides Delhi and Mumbai, Avanti is functional in Chennai, Kanpur and Roorkee.

Siddhant Sachdeva, a third-year student, manages mentors of Delhi chapter. “We have gone through all the confusion, tension, lack of emotional support. We can understand and guide the students preparing for exams now. This is the least we can do for the society,” he says.

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