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International Women’s Day: Meet the driving force behind Career Plus student who topped JEE 2024

Team StoryWeavers|March 08, 2024, 12:33 IST| 1

“When I became part of BYJU’S Social Initiative, my motivation was to make a positive contribution to education, especially for students dealing with financial constraints and geographical challenges.”  This International Women’s Day, meet Shrivridhi Sharma, Senior Fellow, BYJU’S Social Initiatives from Fatehpur, UP. 

At BYJU’S, Shrivridhi passionately guides Career Plus Program students in JEE and NEET preparation. This time around, she added a feather to her cap as she mentored Priyansh Gupta, the 2024 JEE Topper from Fatehpur with a remarkable 98.06%. This International Women’s Day join Shrivridhi as she narrates her experiences, challenges, and triumphs in mentoring Career Plus students towards their competitive exam goals. 

Can you share a little about the journey that led you to BYJUS?

“Before joining BYJU’S, I served as a project coordinator at the Delhi Disaster Management Authority, a role that, while fulfilling, didn’t fully resonate with my passion for education. The turning point came when I stumbled upon the BYJU’S Social Initiative. This initiative not only provided a solution but also kindled a renewed sense of motivation within me. 

Joining BYJU’S Social Initiative fellowship allowed me to integrate my passion for education with a broader objective of making a meaningful impact on society. It’s more than just a career move – it’s a step towards creating opportunities for deserving students facing obstacles beyond their control.”

What does a typical day look like as a social Initiatives fellow? 

“My role was not a typical 9-to-5 job; it involved closely monitoring each student’s progress and growth. I regularly engaged with students and their parents, occasionally meeting with parents in our dedicated learning centre. My routine involved being present at the learning centre around 3 pm when students typically attended. It was crucial to ensure the smooth functioning of the program. 

Coordinating with students and ensuring good attendance was a major part of my daily responsibilities, whether they were attending classes in the learning centre or remotely from home. This required constant communication and follow-up to guarantee their active participation. I’d like to mention that the Career Plus program operates in approximately 60 districts. This success is a result of coordinated efforts, maintaining an environment where students feel comfortable and addressing any challenges they face.” 

How did your mentoring impact Priyash Gupta’s JEE Mains achievement?

“Much like every student, Priyash Gupta had his unique strengths and weaknesses. As a mentor, I provided personalised guidance, tailoring strategies to individual needs. Despite not joining the program that started with 30 students initially, Priyash learned about it six or seven months later and expressed a keen interest. Hailing from Bindki, Priyash belongs to a humble family. profile reflects a well-rounded and determined student with a strong academic background and a clear vision for his future. His diverse interests and inspirations contribute to the depth of his personality, making him a promising candidate for his desired field of study at  IIT Bombay.

Facing logistical challenges, I couldn’t enrol him initially, but fate intervened when a student dropped out. After careful consideration of Priyash’s academic performance, he proved to be a deserving candidate as he had topped his 11th-class results in his entire batch and showcased both motivation and intelligence. Thus, he joined the program and stood out as one of the top-performing students throughout the journey.” 

What aspects of the Career Plus Program contributed to the success of the Priyash and other toppers?

“What I like about the Career Plus program is that it operates online, offering daily classes during a set schedule, mirroring the structure of a traditional school day. The noteworthy feature I appreciate is the flexibility it provides. 

In case a student misses a class, they can access recorded sessions, allowing them to catch up or revisit any part of the program at their convenience. This personalised learning approach, with the ability to review lectures multiple times, sets it apart from traditional offline classes where notes from classmates are the primary resource for review.”

How has utilising the learning centre and online resources benefited students, and which option do they prefer more?

“Offline centres offer a dedicated in-person learning environment, providing valuable hands-on experience, complemented by the convenience of online classes. Career Plus, recognising challenges during the 2020 lockdown, acknowledges the importance of offline centres, offering flexibility in attendance to accommodate students facing schedule or distance constraints.

To support students’ varied schedules, I established a routine of 2-3 weekly visits to the learning centre, understanding that daily attendance could have been more feasible, especially after school. This allowed flexibility for online classes at home while still emphasising the importance of collaborative problem-solving at the centre, ensuring students could study according to their preferences and needs.”

Can you elaborate on the motivation and efforts shown by the students during the learning process? 

“When I initially engaged with these students, the students from rural areas were acutely aware that their journey would be more challenging than those studying in cities. Upon being selected for the program, they recognised the importance of seizing every opportunity swiftly to sustain their progress. Facing demotivation and various constraints, such as limited time due to family commitments and financial struggles, the students preparing for the JEE mains exam found solace in motivational sessions I set up for the students. 

Periodic parent meetings were crucial in aligning students and their families with the program’s objectives. This not only ensured that parents were informed about their children’s progress so far but also emphasised the joint commitment required for success. In doing so, the students felt supported, motivated, and understood, diminishing the sense of isolation in their educational journey.”

Does the mentor-student dynamic within the Career Plus Program foster academic growth and achievement?

“Absolutely, I made it a point to conduct home visits for each student, gaining insights into their backgrounds, study environments, and resources. This establishes a strong rapport, ensuring that students feel comfortable and understood. By understanding their living conditions and challenges, I could tailor my mentoring strategies accordingly. This engagement allowed me to address specific needs, whether related to financial constraints or time management issues.

This approach recently proved beneficial when one student, unfortunately, couldn’t crack the exam. Despite the setback, the student appreciated the motivation and support provided throughout the session. Building a relationship where students feel comfortable, judgment-free, and receive timely feedback has been pivotal in maintaining a positive and effective dynamic with them.”

How do you tailor your mentoring approach to address the diverse learning needs and goals of students?

“Understanding each student’s background and learning style is crucial in my approach. I delve into their unique routines, considering when they wake up, go to school, and engage in self-study. By tailoring my strategies to their learning styles, I ensure effective communication through one-on-one sessions.

Feedback plays a key role in this process. If I identify areas for improvement in a student’s routine, I provide constructive suggestions. Monitoring their adherence to these suggestions helps gauge the impact on their study habits. In addition to academic guidance, I incorporate sessions on soft skills and other essential skills. This holistic approach allows me to address each student’s specific needs and contribute to their overall development.”

How do you see the Career Plus Program shaping the future academic and career paths of the students it supports?

“I think this program significantly impacts students’ lives as it goes beyond academic knowledge, nurturing problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and student confidence. It ignites a passion for learning, addressing the prevalent issue of waning interest in the absence of proper guidance and mentorship. Students thoroughly prepare for competitive exams, including problem-solving sessions and online classes with accessible teacher interaction.”

What challenges did you face as a woman in the educational field and how did you overcome them?

Overcoming challenges in my career involved confronting stereotype mindsets, a hurdle I surmounted by consistently showcasing my expertise and contributions. Maintaining a work-life balance presented a significant challenge, but setting clear boundaries, prioritising tasks, and seeking support from colleagues proved instrumental in achieving equilibrium. Overall, navigating challenges requires a blend of self-confidence, perseverance, and a commitment to delivering one’s best work.

What main message do you have for women who want to pursue education as a profession this Women’s Day?

For women aspiring to pursue a career in the education sector, my message is to wholeheartedly embrace their passion for shaping the teaching and learning process, especially in rural areas that require the dedication of motivated individuals for transformative work. Additionally, strive to inspire positive change in the lives of students and communities, fostering inclusivity and celebrating diversity. As a woman, our unique perspective adds significant value to the education profession.

Want to know more about BYJU’S Career Plus Program? Click here for more information! 

About the Author

I'm Naqshib Nisar aka the Ministry of Happiness. A digital journalist who can write anything under the sun. When I'm not writing, I'm definitely discovering hidden gems of a city or exploring the food culture. Being a language enthusiast, I grasp words from songs I don't really understand. I'm mostly in the procaffeinating mode because coffee comes first. Hit me up if you ever want to find the best cappuccino and croissants in Bangalore.

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March 22, 2024

It is nice to know. Keep it up.


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