From Poverty in India to Grad School in the U.S.

For Women Like Thila, Education is Freedom 

Education is a crucial tool for women in developing nations – a tool that has been withheld from many of us for centuries. It has been withheld from my friend and colleague Thila -- and I am asking for your help.

Thila lives in Chennai, India. It is an understatement to say, that as an Indian woman it has been a struggle for her to become educated.  

She has always been a passionate and high achieving student. Throughout High School, she achieved straight “A”s while remaining active in multiple extracurricular activities. If she had been in the United States she would have gone straight to college on a full scholarship and by now, she would have completed her advanced education. But, oppressed and suppressed by casteism, sexism, and poverty, she was forced into marriage at the age of 16.

Breaking all of those barriers, she still pursued her education with focus and determination. But extenuating circumstances forced her to interrupt her pursuit of a college education and seek employment at the age of 17.

After her father abandoned their family with enormous amount of debts, she had to step up and take over her family responsibilities. She raised her two siblings and paid for their education. She worked very hard to raise the standard of living for her entire family from homelessness to a somewhat stable environment and also cleared all the outstanding debts. But she never gave up fighting to complete her education.

She applied for grants and scholarships to find a way to continue her education. In 2015, she used all of her savings, scholarships and grants to go to the Los Angeles Film School.

In Los Angeles, she was able to complete a three-year degree in just a year and a half which saved time and reduced her expenses. She graduated with honors (3.98/4 GPA) at the age of 31. Her professor commented that in all his years of teaching he had never had a better, more dedicated student. 

In her society it is expected that women get married and take care of their husband, in-laws and children. Education is not considered an actual need for a woman; especially after having kids and being in her 30s. She is very proud to be the first person in her family to ever attend college.

For her, becoming educated is not just about having a good career. Having been denied education her entire life, she is passionate about learning. She loves seeking and gaining knowledge. It is also important to her to break the prevailing stereotypes and model a new type of lifestyle for Indian women. She wants to set an example and be an inspiration for others – let them know that it’s never too late to start a career that you love. She wants to inspire her community by graduating with honors.

She has been working with me in the the civil rights non-profit Equal Means Equal for the past four years, working to provide legal equality for American women under the U.S. Constitution. It has been important and gratifying work and we have achieved ratification in the three final states needed in just the past four years. Now, she wants to continue to deepen her knowledge and go on to Graduate School.

Working for a non-profit, which depends on people like you for funding its activities, while greatly satisfying, is not lucrative. While she is  grateful to have been able to feed her family and put a roof over their heads, she has not been able to save money for Graduate School.

Despite being a a new mom of a one-year old child and working full time, she never gave up her dream of going to Graduate School. Her husband stayed home to care for their baby; She is happy to say he is supportive of her dream to complete her education. She has been preparing for the past two years to qualify herself to receive admissions offers from leading universities.

She applied to several top universities in the United States and she is proud to have secured admission offers from Boston University, and the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. She has also been waitlisted at University of California, San Diego. She is awaiting offer letters from North Carolina State University and Northeastern University. All of these colleges have top-rated Masters Programs in Data Analytics. If she gets accepted, she is choosing to attend the Institute of Advanced Analytics at North Carolina State University as its curriculum best fits her goals.

She has applied for student loans but as an international student, her financial options are extremely limited. She will not be able to work given the full-time course load (M-F 9 to 5) as well as having work restrictions as an international student. 

She has applied for the fellowships and grants available to international students and she is awaiting results. Unfortunately, she does not  qualify for federal aid or most of the American grants and scholarships. Even if she is successful in securing scholarships, grants and loans; she will still need additional funds to completely cover her tuition, books, and living expenses.

That is why she is seeking your kind help with this fundraiser. She has 30 days to secure her admissions offer. The money raised in the next thirty days will be used to pay for her tuition.

 Any donation large or small would make a great difference. $10, $50, $100 or anything you wish would be greatly appreciated. To donate, just click on the link below:

 Thank you in advance for helping her make her dream a reality. She refuses to give up on her dream for a solid education and a good career. Please consider sharing with your friends and colleagues on social media to help boost awareness for this cause.

 She is committed to doing the hard work necessary, not only to excel within the program and in her education, but to inspire her community and its younger generations to value initiative and competitive drive.

 I would like to thank you for your valuable time, consideration and for helping her with your greatly appreciated donation.


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Natalie White 
Fairmont, WV
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