His father is a small-time welder, the medium of instruction in his school in Bihar was Hindi and he had scored 75 per cent in his Class XII examinations. That was in 2011.
Five years later, he is in Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, and has just landed a Rs 1.2 crore job with tech giant Microsoft. What makes it sweeter for him is that he will be working at their headquarters in Redmond, Washington. And at 21, Vatsalya Chauhan has an amazing tale to share of the turnaround.
“I liked reading subject books on my own. But it was not until 2009 that I was told about IITs, and made up my mind to study at an IIT one day,” Chauhan told The Indian Express. A native of Bihar’s Khagaria district, he then enrolled with a coaching centre in Kota.
With his meagre earnings, it was going to be difficult for his father, who also took care of Chauhan’s five siblings, to fund his education. But he decided to invest nearly Rs 60,000 for the coaching classes.
However, when the IIT-JEE results came, they were a bit “let down” — Chauhan’s rank was 9,000 plus. “Supporting his coaching classes in Kota for another year would have been difficult and I told him he could still get into an IIT with that rank,” said his father Chandra Kant Singh, who makes and repairs metal grilles, gates, shutters, almirahs at a shop in Khagaria, earning nearly Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh annually.
However, Chauhan’s calibre had been spotted by his teachers at a coaching centre. “I told them that I can’t afford his coaching for another year. But Vishal Joshi, Amit Ahuja and Rajesh Maheshwari, who teach at Allen (in Kota), told me that Vatsalya is a bright student. They said that I only arrange for the train ticket for his journey to Kota, and that they will take care of rest, and they did,” said Chandra Kant.
With another year of preparation, Chauhan sat for the IIT-JEE in 2012. However, four days before the examination, he was running high fever. “His temperature was at 103 degrees but his health improved a little by the time the examination day approached,” Chandra Kant said.
And then the results were declared — his rank was 382. He had also appeared in other competitive examination and had fared equally well.
A Bihar and Jharkhand topper in AIEEE, Vatsalya still thanks his teachers in Kota.
He then enrolled in Bachelor of Technology, Computer Science, at IIT-Kharagpur.
“Till Kota, I did not face as much difficulty in English,” said Chauhan, who had studied at a government Hindi medium school in his home district. But he managed somehow, as he did at the recent interviews too, “as quite a bit of it had to do with technical skills and
But perhaps, his best is yet to come. Chauhan wants to “bring Naxalites to the mainstream” and is already working on a plan with his college friends on starting schools for them in Bihar and Jharkhand.
“I have come across a few bright students who do not have the opportunity. Maybe, if we educate a generation, then each subsequent generation will be educated and they will be in the mainstream,” he said.