This 17-year-old girl- Malvika Raj Joshi from Mumbai has proved that hard work with true determination and perseverance can help you succeed in life. Against all odds, she got into one of the best universities of the world- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Malvika has an exceptional computer programming talent.
The Mumbai teenager deserves a scholarship to MIT for pursuing her Bachelor of Science degree. She has been a medal winner for 3 times (two silver and a bronze) at International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) or commonly known as Programming Olympiad.
The MIT has a provision by virtue of which they accept the students who are exceptionally good and are medal winners at various Olympiads (Maths, Physics or Computer). Malvika’s medals helped her to accomplish her dreams of pursuing research work in her favorite subject which is Computer Science. Malvika recalls those early days during an emailed interaction from Boston.
“When I started unschooling, that was 4 years back, I explored many different subjects. Programming was one of them. I found programming interesting and I used to give more time to it than to other subjects, so, I started liking it at that time,” she says.
NO ADMISSION IN IIT!
Malvika didn’t get admission in IIT which is quite a loss for the institution. This was because it follows stringent inflexible rules, one of it being passing class XII exams. In fact, she got admission in only Chennai Mathematical Institute (CMI) in India. The story that stays behind Malvika’s success is that of her mother’s toughest decision.
A TOUGH DECISION
Malvika was in class 7 at Dadar Parsee Youth Assembly School in Mumbai. It was her mother’s decision to pull her off from her despite her good performance. “We are a middle-class family. Malvika was doing well in school but somehow I felt that my children (she has younger daughter Radha) need to be happy. Happiness is more important than conventional knowledge,” Supriya told in an interview, explaining her decision.
“I was working with an NGO that takes care of cancer patients. 8th or 9th standard students were being affected by cancer. It affected me deeply and I decided that my daughters need to be happy.” The decision in no way was an easy one.
THE CONCEPT OF HOMESCHOOLING
“Homeschooled” or “unschooled” are the terms, most people aren’t aware of, as it is not commonly referred. Initially, the decision wasn’t easy for Malvika’s father to accept. “My husband Raj wasn’t convinced initially as it was a risky proposition. The kids won’t have a 10th or 12th standard certificate and there was bound to be fear. I quit my NGO job and designed an academic curriculum for Malvika. I created a simulation (classroom like situation) at home. The confidence I had as a mother was that I am capable of imparting knowledge in my daughter’s.” But it worked.
“Suddenly I saw that my daughter was so happy. She was learning more than ever –from the time she woke up to the time she was off to sleep. Knowledge became a passion,” the proud mother recalls.
Malvika was among the top four students who represented India at the Programming Olympiad for 3 consecutive years. Madhavan, who prepared Malvika for all three Olympiads, spoke about her excellence,
“During the past three years, she spent extensive periods at CMI acquiring the background in mathematics and algorithms that she needed to excel at Informatics Olympiad.”
Hence, miracles happen if you have the urge to learn. No one can force anyone to ‘learn’ unless the person himself/herself has that zeal.