Shreya Jain’s story of working in the field of neurodiversity and enabling students with special needs to have equal access to education, is nothing short of inspiring.
“My brother has autism,” she tells us. “At a very young age, I learnt, quite organically, to connect with and understand the needs of my brother.”
“Simultaneously, I also became intrinsically aware of the struggles. My mother had to overcome a lot of hurdles with my brother’s education. He had to change multiple schools and it was hard to find accessible education for neurodiverse learners. The reality of the situation hit home hard, and in a way, led me to work in the field of neurodiversity.”
Along the way, she adds, this mission has now translated into a passion for supporting neurodivergent students in their learning journeys. In this instalment of People Who Make BYJU’S, meet Shreya Jain, Senior Manager, Social Initiatives at BYJU’S, and learn more about her experiences in making education inclusive and accessible for students with learning differences.
After pursuing a dual degree course in chemical engineering and MBA from Mumbai, Shreya quit her pharmaceutical job to solve a problem close to her heart. A three-month experience of working with an autism-focused NGO in New York, further crystalised this idea into a burning passion.
“I worked as a consultant with the Global Autism Project, where I devised the Sibling Advocacy Project – an international support group for siblings of people with neurological disabilities,” she explains. It was this exposure to high-quality educational resources for people with disabilities in the US that inspired her to come back home and scale the impact of inclusive education in India. With this vision, Shreya joined BYJU’S last year.
“Neurodiverse students should have more opportunities to be academically and socially integrated into our communities. With this in mind, we at BYJU’S, aim to support students with learning differences by providing customised learning experiences,” quips the BYJUite.
Her team at BYJU’S, she explains, is working to create a social-emotional programme to provide neurodiverse students with a safe space to learn a combination of skills in a goal-oriented, stress-free, and engaging environment with trained teachers. She continues, “With the help of this programme, neurodiverse learners will explore and learn to navigate real-life situations that they might otherwise find stressful.”
A vocal advocate for diversity, inclusion, and accessibility in education, this BYJUite strives to do her best to make education even more accessible for neurodiverse learners. This empowering thought led Shreya to start her own venture in 2018, to build local support groups and increase awareness through interactive campaigns.
She founded Reservoir, a for-profit social enterprise, and created a network of more than 300 parents, 50+ special educators, therapists, inclusive schools, and corporate clients to support individuals who experience Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down’s Syndrome, ADHD, Tourettes, and other learning differences.
“When I was in New York, I realised the difference in the quality of services available for people there versus back home, and this was something too obvious to ignore. So, when I came back to India, I decided to start up in this space. In fact, that’s when I got the idea of building an online learning solution for neurodiverse children and decided to join BYJU’S. It is heartwarming to see neurodiverse children learn with the product that we have built,” she tells us.
Shreya says she is inspired by the fact that her work is creating a positive impact, and also by the amazing people she works with. “It has been exhilarating. We’ve developed strong working relationships and friendships – and learnt so much! In such a short time at BYJU’S, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with senior leaders, who have extended extraordinary support to get this project off the ground,” she explains.
And there have been plenty of learning opportunities as well. One of her biggest takeaways, says the BYJUite, is the importance of communication and finding the right allies.
“Communicating fluently and effectively is key to developing trust and building relationships,” she tells us. “It is essential to tell people what fuels your passion and drives your decisions. Once you establish your values, everything else will fall into place, because you’ll attract people and projects that are aligned with those values.”
Damini is passionate about photography and travelling. She is happy to have her camera in hand to click random pictures. Always searching for answers about the chaos around her, she spends most of her time reading and learning new things. She also loves listening to music but is a pathetic singer herself. From being a journalism student to working with several media houses, she hopes to keep narrating compelling stories all her life. Write to her at [email protected] or [email protected] BYJU'S
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