My life followed a circuitous route—engineering, creative writing, a stint in publishing—before I started working as a teacher at a primary school in New Delhi. While at times exasperating and challenging, teaching drove me to think deeply about education and its role in society. I soon came to regard education an important tool with which to provide dignity and opportunity to millions in India and elsewhere. With this larger purpose in mind, I applied to the International Comparative Education program at Stanford GSE.
As a student in the ICE/IEPA program, I became familiar with education in a broader international context and developed skills in qualitative and quantitative research to analyze educational problems scientifically. Such an approach has proved valuable to me both as an education researcher and an observer of current events. More specifically, I thoroughly enjoyed the program’s diverse coursework in research methods, statistics, economics, international relations, and social entrepreneurship. I was eventually able to utilize many of the skills learned through the coursework toward my master’s thesis—an analysis of the effect of women’s autonomy on school dropouts in India.
Beyond the ICE/IEPA’s obvious practical and intellectual merits, one of the highlights was the relationships I built along the way. In the addition to being the ‘best and the brightest’, people who are part of this program—colleagues, TAs, professors—genuinely want you to succeed. Their support and encouragement often kept me going during times of intense work and stress.
Soon after completing the program, I joined the Freeman Spogli Institute of International Studies as a project manager. Here I work closely with Professor Prashant Loyalka on a project to improve the quality of higher education in developing countries such as India, China, and Russia. It’s exactly the kind of meaningful and exciting work that led me to apply to Stanford in the first place. I’m grateful for both the personal and professional growth opportunities offered at the GSE, and look forward to engaging more deeply with educational issues around the world.