On 20th November, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney and Principal Dr.Michael Spence, along with Dr.Kiran Martin, Founder, and Director of Asha society launched the ‘Sydney Scholars India Equity Scholarship’. The first Scholarship of its kind was awarded to the student Abhishek Handa from Peeragarhi slum colony.
The event was held at the Asha community centre in Peeragarhi slum colony, Dr.Kiran Martin initiated this event by expressing ‘This is an important day that marks a milestone for Asha. It is a wonderful start of a partnership between the University of Sydney and Asha.’ She thanked the University of Sydney for taking time out to honour Abhishek. Dr.Kiran Martin further quoted with pride ‘Currently 2700 students from various Asha slums are studying at the Delhi University. These children are living examples of the words, egalitarianism, equity, finding your place in the world and finding the true sense of your worth and dignity. We hope this partnership lasts for a long time and fulfills the dream of not just 1 but 100 students and more.’
Dr.Michael Spence then highlighted how important this occasion was for the University of Sydney and how proud they are of this partnership. He further quoted ‘We created the India specific scholarships because we recognize the vital importance of Australia’s relationship with India. We also recognize that talent is not restricted to any particular social or economic background and we hope that this scholarship will mean that financial need does not prevent a young person of outstanding talent from realizing their potential.’ He concluded by saying ‘It is a tremendous achievement to get into this degree. So, I congratulate Abhishek and his family.’
The scholarship recipient, Abhishek, took to the stage and shared his story and aspirations for the future ahead. He felt nostalgic and remembered the days in high school when Asha provided him with textbooks and study materials to prepare for his 12th final exams. Abhishek also spoke about how the Asha community centre has been a place of comfort where he found a quiet place to study. He was emotional as he spoke further and said ‘I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Dr.Kiran Martin, who motivated and guided me to pursue a degree in Commerce. When she informed me that I was selected for the scholarship, I was wonderfully surprised and stunned. Thank you for believing in me and for giving me this opportunity.’
The event continued into an interactive session in which Dr.Spence spoke to the Asha students and enquired about their aspirations and the challenges they face in their lives. He also shared a few anecdotes in which he spoke about the importance of careers such as social workers who helped him through a very difficult phase in his personal life. He encouraged Asha students to pursue such noble careers and become agents of change for their community and their country.