— Written by Charul Honariya
From remote-controlled toys to a fancy calculator, there were a lot of things that my father couldn’t afford. But not having these things were not as painful for me growing up as a child of an agriculture labourer as it was to see my neighbours and relatives losing their life because of lack of good medical facilities in my village – Kiratpurin in Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor district.
For a minor surgery to pregnancy-related check-ups, people had to cover a distance of over 25 kilometers to reach the nearest hospital in Nagina. I have covered this distance many times, sometimes to use a computer, and more recently, to get my passport-size photographs clicked for enrollment at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). From the unpaved roads of my village to the premier medical science institute of the country, it has been an arduous journey.
I could have never dreamt of becoming a doctor, forget securing a place at the most sought-after institution in our country to study medical sciences. Behind this success is the hard work of a lot of people – including my teachers and mentors, my father who values education, and the pillars of my life who gave me the strength and motivation to dream big.
I was in class 5 in my village primary school when I cleared the entrance exam to study at VidyaGyan Leadership Academy, Bulandshahr which provides free education to underprivileged students like me. Despite everybody’s advice against sending a girl to a residential co-ed school, my father understood that education is the true transformative power and stood by me.
When I thought about what I wanted to pursue after graduating from school, I was reminded of the loss of people in my village for lack of medical attention. There was no question that I would focus my energies on becoming a doctor. I wish to build a hospital in a remote village someday where a network of villages can avail healthcare services for free. I am confident that one day I will achieve this goal.
I graduated from school with 93 per cent marks but had to take a gap year in 2019 since I could not clear NEET in the first attempt. I have secured 680/720 in NEET with AIR 631 and category rank 10. I also enrolled at Dakshana coaching centre in Pune. I would attend classes for almost six hours with five hours of supervised self-study. During the pandemic, I returned home and continued my preparation through online sessions and WhatsApp discussions with my teachers and classmates.
My advice for NEET aspirants is to focus on the syllabus, as it is what forms the base of the question paper. Before grabbing any reference books, one must be thorough with NCERT material. If possible, discuss topics verbally with friends to get deeper insights and understanding of the concepts. Practice, dedication, single-minded focus and a belief in your abilities is what will get you there.