Following the dreams of many, a 28-year old from Mumbai has been successful in enrolling at the University of California for her PhD. Sarita Mali, who sold flower garlands with her father in the bustling streets of Mumbai has been a student of JNU, completing her MA and Mphil, and currently, is pursuing her PhD in Hindi Literature at the Indian Language Centre at the university.
Speaking to the media about her success, Sarita highlights her journey towards achieving her dreams through the “ups and downs in [her] life”. Speaking about her father-daughter duo in selling flower garlands, especially during festivals, Sarita stated that she had been alongside her father since school time.
In telling her story, Sarita spoke about how the pandemic affected her father’s daily livelihood, a business that has been part of their lives since the beginning. However, Sarita attributes her academic prowess and success to her enrolment in JNU, a university, she claims, that offers abundant hope to people coming from society and life that is extremely familiar to Sarita.
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With six members in her family, including her mother, two younger brothers, an elder sister and her father, Sarita’s father faced challenges due to the restrictions brought forth due to the pandemic.
Calling her admission to JNU her turning point, Sarita remembered a statement that stuck with her since 2010. A cousin of Sarita spoke of JNU, stating that ‘whosoever goes to JNU becomes something’. Ever since, like a mantra running through her mind, Sarita worked hard for admission to JNU during her first year in BA. Subsequently, in 2014, Sarita was successful in acquiring the last OBC seat in JNU for a master’s programme.
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Speaking of her day-to-day struggles, Sarita urges the government to establish more universities like JNU that instil a ray of hope for people who have struggled a lot, making them believe they can achieve their dreams too.
However, her success has raised mixed reactions from people around her, with some being inspired by her journey at JNU and some wondering why she studies at the university while her father works a small job, she stated. She further added that many have even questioned her reasons for pursuing academics for such a long period. However, none of them compares to her being one of the youngest research scholars at JNU, being 22 years old when she first joined MPhil.
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