A 17-year-old Dalit boy from Patna has received a scholarship worth Rs. 2.5 crore to pursue his graduation in the United States (USA). Prem Kumar, son of a daily-wage earner from the Gonpura village in Phulwarisharif, is a first-generation college-student-to-be in his family and, as per media reports, likely the first Mahadalit student to accomplish the feat.
Presently a class 12th student at Shoshit Samadhan Kendra, Prem will be moving later this year to Pennsylvania to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and International Relations at Lafayette College.
It is understood that the Rs. 2.5 crore scholarship is a full ride offered by Lafayette College, a leading engineering school in the US, established in 1826.
Prem is one of only six students selected for the prestigious 'Dyer Fellowship' worldwide.
The Dyer Fellowship is awarded to extraordinary students who exhibit “drive and intrinsic motivation to impact their world, along with a relentless focus on problem-solving”, according to university officials.
"Congratulations! We are inspired by your commitment and determination to serve underprivileged communities," Dean of Admission, Matthew S Hyde, wrote in an acceptance letter to the 17-year-old, according to ETV Bharat.
His Rs. 2.5 crore scholarship will cover every expense directly or indirectly related to his undergraduate program, including tuition fees, accommodation, travel expenses, health insurance and course books.
When he was 14, Prem was recognised by Dexterity Global, an organisation that seeks to address gaps in education and access to resources in South Asia through its student mentorship and leadership programs.
On receiving the scholarship, the Dalit student said: “My parents could never go to school. This is incredible.” He went on: “The Dexterity Global organisation which is working for the Mahadalit children in Bihar is very commendable. It is because of them that I have got this success today. I am happy."
Sharad Sagar, Founder and CEO of Dexterity Global, was recognised by Forbes 30 Under 30 2016 as a social entrepreneur to watch out for. He announced last week that students under the ‘Dexterity to College’ development program, so far, have earned scholarships worth Rs. 100 crore.