In Pursuit of Quality Education
I grew up in India at a time when the economy was sluggish, the jobs were few and the country had yet to witness the 21st century’s first decade of development. At that time (and to a lesser extent now) only those who graduated from highly selective universities stood a chance of obtaining a decent job. Like many of their peers, my parents spent a large percentage of their modest income on my access to a high quality K-12 education. They knew that attending a high-quality K-12 school would provide me the necessary foundation to compete for those highly selective universities and thus create the opportunity for me to earn a decent living in adulthood. I still remember the day when my older brother got his first job as a software engineer and the happiness it brought my parents. My childhood instilled in me the belief that a high-quality K-12 education is necessary for an individual’s academic and professional success. For the majority of people I grew up with it was also the only route to ensure a decent livelihood. This belief and experience is my primary motivation to work in the education sector.
After acquiring a Bachelor’s degree in Economics I started my career in management consulting. I worked on projects where we tried to improve the work environment in multinational corporations. But outside the plush corporate buildings in urban India, every day I confronted fundamental problems of poverty, inequity and inefficient public systems. I left my corporate job and started anew in non-profits.
My non-profit work in India exposed me to issues such as citizens’ role in local governance, urban elections and voting, civic education programs for children privileged to receive schooling, and child labor in the tourism sector. After three good years I felt I could make a bigger impact if I had rigorous policy analysis and quantitative research skills. To build these skills, I decided to pursue a Master of Public Policy from the University of Maryland, just outside Washington, DC.
My graduate studies not only helped build my research and quantitative analysis skills, but also reignited my desire to concentrate on the K-12 education sector. I start my research fellowship with DC Action for Children with the hope of immersing myself in education data, the policies regulating it and the complexities of creating positive change for children here in DC. By working alongside the DC Action for Children team, I hope to learn about how high-quality education can be made accessible to every child in DC.