Sushma Verma is an ambitious young girl and her accomplishments, already worthy of recognition, are more impressive considering all she has been through before starting her first graduate class. Verma’s father had to sell some of his land to help pay for his daughter’s tuition and the young girl lives in a one-room apartment with her parents and three siblings.
The Associated Press reports Verma will attend Lucknow's B. R. Ambedkar Central University and will get her master’s degree in microbiology. The 13-year-old plans to work towards her doctorate but she will have to wait until she is 18 prior to enrolling into a medical school. Verma graduated high school at the age of seven, besting her older brother by two years. As noted by AP, Verma’s brother graduated high school at the age of nine and went on to become a computer science graduate at the age of 14.
According to Verma, her success is due her family, saying to AP, “They allowed me to do what I wanted to do.” Education, at times, is not an option for many girls in India as families opt for marriage or push for a male sibling’s education. According to recent estimates, anywhere from 2.8 million to eight million children may not be enrolled in public school, reports the Guardian.
Even if a child is enrolled in public school, pupils have to face overcrowding and unsanitary conditions at understaffed schools. For girls, they face harassment and are too scared to report it, fearing they will be held responsible, notes the Guardian. Even though almost an equal amount of girls and boys attend primary school, girls are soon discouraged from continuing their education, opting to work, provide support for their family or get married.
Verma’s father is the only source of income for the family, making less than $3.50 a day as a construction worker, reports AP. For her tuition, her father sold some land to help pay the bill while Sulabh International, a charity promoting social change and improving sanitary conditions in rural areas of India, gave the girl a check for 800,000 Rupees ($12,732) for her education. In addition to the tuition check, the charity’s founder, Bindeshwar Pathak, also gave the girl an iPod, an iPhone, laptop, desktop computer and a LED TV and will give her 3,000 rupees (4,744.50), reports the Asian Age.