In my Statement of Purpose for the MA Program (IEPA), I wrote that my biggest belief in education is that demography should not determine destiny. That belief had derived my work before coming to Stanford. I have worked for solving education inequity in India for six years by becoming a teacher in a juvenile home, an academic program manager with a low-cost private schools chain, and as a head of nation-wide teachers training program supported by Skill India Mission. I was solving the problems in the field of education by being on the field and by driving change through blood and sweat.
I came to Stanford to find solutions for a nation that is waiting for some miracle for its education crisis. From that point of view, my year here was a huge success. In classes of Professors Eric Bettinger, Martin Carnoy, Patricia Bromley, Prashant Loyalka, Rie Kijima, Rob Urstein, Sean Reardon, and Thomas Dee, I found strategic and mental tools for approaching these problems in the smartest and most efficient ways. They showed me that the world I want to see can exist and does exist through multidisciplinary thinking and evidence-based decision making; yet always with more and more creativity and grit. I have come to recognize having your heart at right place in the field of education is extremely important but cognitive and visionary trainings is a necessity. Stanford’s MA IEPA program is best at that.
My most rock-solid experience in the IEPA program has been the MA Paper. Professor Christine Min Wotipka has put together an extremely well-designed four-quarter coursework to help us write an MA paper of publishable quality. If you are looking for building your career in International NGOs or applying for Ph.D. program, this MA paper could be the most concrete preparation of that. It is the biggest entrepreneurial task I took in my hands, as one can decide for themselves how far to take it. In the Spring quarter when I observed the members of my cohort presenting, I was thrilled to see how far we all had chosen to go.
Now that I am graduating from Stanford, I am joining Central Square Foundation in New Delhi. I will be part of the team that works with national and state governments for education policy and programs. Almost 50% of children in India go to private schools and a large proportion of those schools can get away by providing poor-quality education. My role requires me in finding good education interventions by working with the government that can help solve that problem. Of course, it feels like a huge challenge even now, but I feel more resourceful, prepared, and empowered by the Stanford experience.
All my classmates have taken different pieces of the education puzzle - from early childhood education to higher education, from Brazil to China, from public to private, and from government to for-profit. We will spread far and wide soon from Stanford, our center of the universe for last one year, once again getting back to working with more blood and sweat to give our lives more usefulness and purpose.