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My parents do not know where Harvard is, Jharkhand girl enjoys spotlight after getting Harvard scholarship


Jharkhand girl Seema Kumari, 17, daughter of illiterate parents working as subsistence farmers made headlines after securing a full scholarship from Harvard University. She gained prominence as Bollywood actor Priyanka Chopra tweeted a congratulatory message.

Seema has got a full scholarship to Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She was also accepted at Ashoka University, Middlebury College, and Trinity College. She is being groomed by an NGO, called Yuwa that works specifically with girls from impoverished families in rural Jharkhand.

Born and brought up in Dahu village in Ormanjhi block near state capital Ranchi, she finished her class XII through NIOS. She joined the youth football team at the NGO in 2012.

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Yet to finalise the subject


Seema is currently undecided about what her major will be, but she is interested in pursuing four-year undergraduate programme in Sociology or Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. “I plan to start an organisation for women in my village and studying these subjects will help me. My organisation will work to help women start small businesses that would train them to be financially independent. I also want to educate women about their rights and build a bigger network to support women by providing essential vocational skills and knowledge,” explains Seema who is likely to go to the US in August.

No access to education, technology


“As a first-generation learner, I did not grow up reading books or having an access to educational material. My learning was more from the day to day life. For instance, participating in traditional farming, looking after cattle and livestock and nurturing nature” says Seema, who studied till class VII at local government school. Seema is flooded with messages on social media, ever since news about her success went viral.

Parents’ reaction


Seema’s parents are happy but do not know much about the importance of Harvard scholarship. “My parents do not even know the name of this prominent global university and have no idea of what I have achieved,” she adds.

Guidance and support


The guidance for college application was offered by teachers at Yuwa. “I applied to many universities and included Harvard because of its stellar reputation and policy for meeting demonstrated financial need for admitted students,” she says.

Future plan

Seema plans to return to India to work towards gender equality: “Gender equality is something that my village needs to develop socially. Sensitising the villagers will reduce injustices against women and cases of gender discrimination, domestic violence, child marriage etc. It would not only show economic growth but also social development where women will be a part of decision making at each house,” says Seema.





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