In March 2020, Nancy Anderson, Student Programme Assistant, travelled to India to meet up with Pestalozzi UK alumni. Whilst there she caught up with Pestalozzi alumna Dhanashree Patil.
Time in Delhi allowed me the chance to connect with a number of our amazing alumni, including Dhanashree, who is currently living here with her mother, husband and one year old daughter. When I arrived at her house, I was greeted with an immediate warmth in a way that is very unique to being part of the Pestalozzi family.
Originally from a small village in India, Dhanashree attended a primary school with very basic facilities, one teacher for all of the classes and no toilets. Regardless of her limited circumstances, she persisted with her learning and obtained a place at JNV school, where she studied until she was selected for Pestalozzi. After two years of study in the UK, she was accepted on scholarship to study International Relations and Economics at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.
‘I have studied on scholarships my entire life and it has influenced my whole philosophy. It makes me want to mentor bright, high achieving kids from low income families. I am always mentoring one or two people to help them overcome financial barriers. I work in a department that deals with direct transfers of government benefits to beneficiaries such as farmers, students, non-government organisations and government agencies… I am ensuring that those grants are getting to people and being utilised properly. This was one of my motivations, I wanted to work in the development for people’.
Upon completing her degree in the US, Dhanashree returned to India and was offered a year-long full scholarship placement with the Young India Fellowship. This allowed her to study a number of classes in different disciplines including gender studies, art history, statistics, psychology, literature and writing. She was also accepted onto an internship placement working with a start up to put up solar panels in previously un-electrified areas in Utter Pradesh.
‘I always wanted to be a Civil Servant and I also wanted to get the experience of studying from an Indian perspective’.
With this in mind, she undertook a position at Ashoka University as a Research and Teaching Assistant for Politics and Economics courses and she also studied a Masters in Development Studies at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, finishing midway through to begin her employment with the Indian government.
Dhanashree now works as their Assistant Controller of Accounts, under the Ministry of Finance Department of Expenditure. She has also published a book entitled ‘Art of Writing Essay’.
‘Pestalozzi broadened my horizons and allowed me to think bigger. My belief in the power of education was really strengthened after Pestalozzi because it taught me how one person’s life can be totally changed by good education. This is not just my story, but so many of us with low income backgrounds and difficult circumstances are really doing well now’.
With so many achievements to speak about, Dhanashree is still an incredibly humble human being. As someone who works every day in the mind-set of how best she can use her skills to serve others, I know that the community she lives in is certainly richer for having her in it and I can’t wait to see how the next part of her journey will unfold.