Turning Dreams into Reality: Impact of the Verizon Innovative Learning Program

What does it take to turn a dream into reality? Reflecting on various scholars, fellows and young leaders that I have worked with in the past and more specifically at the Institute of International Education, I have come up with the following items.

  1. A dream to achieve a goal once imagined to be unreachable;
  2. Drive, or a burning passion to achieve that unreachable dream;
  3. Courage to do seemingly impossible things and to take the unfamiliar path, and most importantly;
  4. Opportunity to be there at the right time and the right place.

I am certain we can add many items to the list but for now let us focus on the above four to highlight the accomplishments of one such young leader from Chennai, India.

In a country like India where young girls face multiple barriers to living a life of freedom and choice, there are some stories that stand out and become an inspiration for the generations to come. Such stories are typically born out of the vital ingredients of dream, drive, courage and opportunity.

The Verizon Foundation developed the Verizon Innovative Learning Program (VILP) in 2013 to promote innovation in education for girls by leveraging education technology to provide better access to Science and Mathematics. Subramani Sangeetha (pictured here) from Lady Sivaswami Ayyar Girls Higher Secondary School in Chennai was one of 20 students in her class of over 120 selected to participate in the VILP, which is administered by IIE. As a stand-out student, Sangeeta took this opportunity to a new height by seizing her dream of doing bigger, greater things.

Sangeetha wrote a winning essay, securing a scholarship for a fully-funded residential science program in the United States at the University of Rhode Island, Kingston and has the courage and drive to create a space for herself to thrive among a talented group of international students. We hope Sangeetha’s larger dream of designing a solar powered auto rickshaw for her father – who currently drives an auto rickshaw on the streets of Chennai to make a living for his family – becomes a reality soon, and India continues its journey of creating women innovators and providing opportunities to many more promising young leaders like Sangeetha.

Read Sangeetha’s inspiring full story full story