For the last four years, 22-year-old Lalitha R Avali from Hiriyur, Chitradurga, would begin her day at the wee hours of dawn.
“I would wake up around 4 AM and head to the Nehru Market in Hiriyur, where my parents sell vegetables. I’d carry my books along, and in between assisting them with the sales, I would try my best to study,” she mentions.
Afterwards, she would head to East West College of Engineering in Yelahanka, Bengaluru, where she was pursuing a BE from the Department of Aeronautical Engineering. The college falls under the Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) in Belagavi.
The daily grind would wear her out at times, but Lalitha was tireless in the pursuit of knowledge, and consistently aced all her examinations with flying colours.
Even so, she was stunned when she found out about her incredible final-year results, which were released on 1st February 2020.
Lalitha scored the first rank in the state, a remarkable 9.7 percentile, in Aeronautical Engineering and also acquired a commendable score of 707 in the GATE examination.
On Saturday, 8th February, the state topper will be felicitated at the VTU campus in Bengaluru with the coveted gold medal.
“It feels great. My family is elated right now. I am the first graduate in my family. In fact, our whole district is celebrating,” she adds.
Making her parents proud
Lalitha ascribes the entire credit for her success to her parents.
“There was no shortage of struggles in our life. I have seen my parents toiling day and night to support the family. Still, they managed to provide us with the best academic opportunities. I will forever be grateful towards them,” she shares with The Better India, amidst a flurry of congratulatory messages and phone calls.
Lalitha (second from left) with her family
As expected, her parents, Rajendra and Chitra, are overjoyed at their eldest daughter’s results. While they did not get the opportunity to complete their schooling due to financial constraints and have been engaged in their ancestral vocation of selling vegetables for the past 40 years, they ensured that their three daughters received a decent education and opted for mainstream careers.
The state topper also thanks her college teachers and classmates for their tremendous support. Impressed by her consistent good results, the college administration had offered free hostel facilities to her, which saved her an exhausting daily bus journey and several precious hours.
A space scientist in the making
When asked about her future plans, Lalitha, who considers K Sivan, the present chief of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) as her role model, mentions that she wants to pursue a Masters’ degree in Aerospace Engineering from any leading educational institution like IIT or IISc.
“My dream is to work as a space scientist in India. I wish to join ISRO or DRDO,” she concludes, with a huge smile.