With a passion for children's education and women's empowerment, Pooja Udayan makes a big step towards fulfilling her dreams.
ICG welcomes Pooja into the family as an intern to get involved in projects, people, CSR initiatives, and anything she can get her hands on. From an orphaned child, to being awarded a Chevening scholarship at SOAS University of London, Pooja is making big moves to further her education.
Having lost her parents at a young age, Pooja joined Udayan Care Home in India - an NGO for children’s rights. ICG Foundation are involved in and support Udayan Care who work to empower the education of vulnerable children, women, and youth.
Starting her formal education from scratch at 7 years old proved very difficult for Pooja as she only ever knew Hindi. Pooja was initially enrolled in a government school, until her teachers and mentors realised her potential. Having big dreams for Pooja and wanting the best education possible, she was prepped and groomed for an entrance exam into one of the best schools in India - Delhi Public School Greater Noida. With the help of tutors and guidance from Udayan Care, she cleared the exam and completed her schooling with Humanities as her main subject.
Pooja is also involved with the Care Leavers in India (children that turn 18 and are asked to leave the NGO’s) and helps advocate for a systemic policy change that ensures aftercare is the right of each child and young adult in India’s alternative care system.
With children and people being her passion, she wanted to do a bachelor’s in social work, with a focus on working with non-profits. Being given so many opportunities, she wanted to give back to her community and help make a difference.
Udayan Care fully supported her interest and assisted her in getting a job in CSR at Genpact company. For 6 years she played a part in multiple projects around children's education and CSR projects for women empowerment and mentorship.
She didn’t stop there. Pooja decided to apply for the highly prestigious Chevening Scholarship in 2020. Applications were open to 70 000 students for an opportunity to study in the UK for a year. After a 10-month process of interviews, essays, presentations and documents, Pooja was one of 1200 students to be accepted and fully sponsored for the opportunity – proving that hard work pays off.
The connection between ICG and Udayan Care
After applying for the scholarship, she began job hunting and came across Rajnish Virmani’s (ICG Director) details on Facebook. Not knowing that he works for ICG or that ICG Foundation support Udayan Care, she asked whether he had any connections or knew of any work opportunities. And that is when everything fell into place.
Currently involved in badging and sending uniforms, assisting with time sheets, preparing documents for travelling staff, and plans to get more involved in CSR initiatives, Pooja is loving every minute of being a part of the ICG family.
Next steps for Pooja
Pooja is currently finishing her dissertation which is linked to the work she is involved in back in India. She wants to initiate a mentoring program between ICG and Udayan Care to help prepare young adults for the real world after turning 18.
Many of her siblings were motivated by her educational performance and for being awarded a scholarship. The example she set and the dedication she put into her work really had an influence on them to want the same.
Following her footsteps, 3 of her siblings from Udayan Care will also be coming to the UK next year to study. Her plan is to have 1-1 mentoring, guiding them and preparing them for when they come to the UK, because the education system is very different from India, she says.
Developing young leaders
Pooja is very grateful for the opportunity to study and work in the UK and has learnt many skills. “The education system is exciting and insightful” Pooja adds. What’s even more significant is that she gets to work for a company that has a hand in the organisation that raised her.
ICG is proud to be involved with Udayan Care who help support and shape young adults to come out stronger. Pooja’s story is a lesson for all – teaching us that with hard work, courage and determination, reaching your goals is possible no matter which walk of life you come from.