Every year, some of the world’s brightest minds vie to study at Cambridge’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The few lucky Indian students who have made it to this prestigious institute, have managed the feat after winning a series of Olympiads and scoring competitive marks at the board examinations.
The scholarship amount will cover Ayush Sharma’s tuition fee, study material, stay and food expenses, which add up to almost Rs 40 lakh per year at the MIT. Pic/Bipin Kokate
But, 17-year-old Ayush Sharma has surpassed most students by not only securing admission at the MIT, but also winning a staggering Rs 1.4-crore scholarship. The amount will cover most of his expenses for the four-year undergraduate course — all this before he even gets hold of his Class XII board exam results.
Sharma, who lives in Kanpur, had been awarded a 90 per cent scholarship — a rare phenomenon — which covers his tuition fees, study material, stay and food expenses (almost Rs 40 lakh per year).
Ayush Sharma PIC/Bipin Kokate
‘I don’t play it safe’
“Most people are scared to take risks and play it safe. I, on the other hand, take every risk I can and believe it is this attitude that has helped me reach MIT,” said the teenager, who is currently in Mumbai for his visa application. Sharma is one of the three students (the two others are from Bhubaneswar and Nagpur) this year to have made it to MIT from India. However, only Sharma bagged a 90 per cent scholarship. Students usually bag 10-30 per cent scholarships.
The sprawling campus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology at Cambridge, USA
Sharma finished his secondary and higher secondary education from Kendriya Vidyalaya IIT in Kanpur. In his Class X board exams, he scored a perfect 10 CGPA. While his peers prepared for their Class XI exams, Sharma was busy applying for a summer fellowship at Yale University.
“I learnt about policies and innovation in science and the global energy crisis in that time,” said Sharma. Now, Sharma plans to pursue pure sciences in the first two years and then decide which subject he will pursue his degree in.
During the application, Sharma wrote six different essays and submitted a maths project proposal. He was supported by Red Pen, an organisation that helps students with their applications to universities abroad. This organisation helped Sharma get his application in place on a pro bono basis. Co-founder Kimberly Dixit said that his application was whetted under the Need Blind Applications Process, where the applicant’s financial status is ignored and only his/her application is considered for one of the 2,000 seats at MIT.
Reality is still sinking in for Sharma. “Most of my family members are not even aware of MIT and can’t understand the gravity of this accomplishment. But they are all supportive of my dreams,” he said. “My father works in the Public Works Department and my mother recently retired. I knew finance will be a big issue since my family could not raise funds to cover my entire education. But MIT just made the process smooth for me,” he added.
Sharma has big dreams for India after he completes his education. “The education system in India has taken the fun out of maths and science. I want to change this someday,” said Ayush. “And I’m glad my future did not depend on my Class XII marks!”
About Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MIT comprises five schools and one college, which contain 32 departments. The college is traditionally known for research and education in the physical sciences and engineering, and more recently in biology, economics, linguistics, and management.
Often cited as among the world’s top universities, as of 2014, 81 Nobel laureates, 52 National Medal of Science recipients, 45 Rhodes Scholars, 38 MacArthur Fellows, and 2 Fields Medalists have been affiliated with MIT.
The top employers for bachelor’s degree recipients at MIT are Google, Oracle, McKinsey, Morgan Stanley, Accenture, Amazon, Microsoft, Boston Consulting Group and Goldman Sachs