“It’s not necessary that everyone will understand what you do. But, it’s important that you are convinced and happy. My parents don’t always understand what I do, but they are proud of me. I am after all the first person to have stepped out of the village to pursue a dream,” says Nisha Bharti, a young designer at the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT).
Her father, a construction worker and her mother, a part-time milk seller worked their fingers to the bone to bring up their six children. A native of Budhera village in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, Nisha grew up with a hunger to learn. Her courage and persistence helped her win the opportunity to study at VidyaGyan. Like many meritorious students from rural parts of India, Nisha’s life also changed after she cracked the entrance exam to the prestigious school.
Established in 2009 by the Shiv Nadar Foundation, VidyaGyan is a residential academy driven to transform youth into future leaders. With students from across 75 districts of Uttar Pradesh, the school identifies meritorious, rural students from economically underprivileged backgrounds, and provides them with high-quality education to help them be the best of their potential.
“I had no idea about VidyaGyan. I was extremely excited, but at home things were different. First of all, I was a girl and second no one had really left home to pursue education or a profession. It was unheard of, and that too at such a young age. I was in Class 5 then. But, thankfully, my uncle convinced my parents to let me follow this opportunity,” shares Nisha.
She was eager but a little nervous too, when she entered VidyaGyan. From the teachers, classes to libraries, sports fields, and other facilities, this young girl was full of awe.
“VidyaGyan is very different from other schools. A boarding school with amazing facilities, it had become my extended family, who supported me every step of the way. In this home away from home, the possibilities were endless. I could be anything I wanted to and dreams had no boundaries. It was like I was in Hogwarts!” she exclaims.
But, while navigating through her childhood, Nisha soon found her calling in fine arts. A born artist, Nisha credits her parents for her creative bend. “I grew up seeing my mother embroider beautiful motifs on fabric and my father making construction designs. Though they never had the opportunity to follow their dreams, but for the first time, I had the chance to do so. My art teacher was a strong support at this point. He had discovered my passion and innate talent for art and began to help me better myself,” adds Nisha who began to work towards a career in arts from Class 7 onwards.
Soon, she was among the four students selected to study at the London College of Fashion Technology. “I was ecstatic when I heard the news but it was short lived because I had to give it up due to financial reasons. It was a low point but my art teacher helped me rally my spirits and apply again, this time to a premier design college in India, National Institute of Fashion Technology, Jaipur. When I got selected in India’s best fashion school, I was overwhelmed and moved,” she adds.
Now a 4th year student of Bachelor of Design, specialising in Accessories Design, Nisha has overcome several hurdles to be where she is today. And, her story has inspired many in the village including her own brother and sisters, who are moving to various parts of the country to seek better educational and career opportunities.
The young designer one day hopes to pursue higher education and also start her own design company. But before that, she wants to support her family, who stood by her despite not being aware of her choices.
“The first leap is always difficult. I was scared but determined to take it and now that makes me so glad. My family sees that too!” she smiles.