Samaanta Foundation is pleased to introduce the seventh cohort of our higher education fellows. After a grueling few months of assessing applications, recommendations, essays, interviews, and financial and community circumstances, we have selected 6 fellows for this fellowship to continue their higher secondary education. All our fellows are public school graduates, and although each of them is unique in their achievements, they share a common thread which binds them. They have all overcome tremendous personal and communal hardships to rise above their circumstances and demonstrate a combination of academic success, extracurricular drive, and service and leadership potential.

Each year, we come across far more talented and deserving students than we can support. This year, we were adamant that we would only accept four fellows at this level, but after three weeks of discussions and negotiations, we simply could not shortlist any further, so have caved to take six instead of four fellows. We would  have liked to take at least 12 from this cohort if we had the resources, so we apologies to so many other finalists who warrant to be with us.

Please join us in welcome our six fellows, and we look forward to seeing them grow and realize their potential in the days and years ahead.

Hishila Danuwar hails from Baaluwa, Kavrepalanchowk, and is a graduate of Shree Azad Secondary School. She is the first member of her family to study in high school and appear in the SEE. In addition to her academic excellence, Hishila has demonstrated significant leadership and service orientation. For instance, she has been active in a child club to raise awareness against superstition, and chaired a panel on ‘Budget for child sector’ in a FM program. During our selection process, she distinguished herself as very engaged, mature, and thoughtful.

Rajan Shrestha is from Khatritok, Sindhupalchowk, and a graduate of Shree Bhimsen Secondary School. His interests are diverse, ranging from drawing to poetry. He has also assumed leadership positions, including serving as the President of a child club in his community. He shared candidly that he finds delegating responsibilities difficult, which he sees as a major problem of leading a group.

Ganesh Rapal (BK) is from Katuwa, Lalitpur, and he completed his 10th grade from Shree Janak Secondary School. He was the first boy in his school, and led a club to encourage peer learning and teaching as well. He is both passionate and reflective, and has advocated for affirmative action, and against caste discrimination. He has also made a tattoo machine from scratch, displaying his innovative side as well.

Aakash Suwal is from Mahalaxmi, Lalitpur, and he completed his studies from Shree Shringery Community School, Lalitpur. Despite challenging circumstances at home, Aakash has excelled in his academic and extracurricular pursuits. He has held leadership positions in his classroom as well as the school. He has raised funds to support children with disabilities, and to construct and maintain temples in his community. He worked during the school holidays, painting people’s homes, to financially support his family.

Pramila Rana Magar is from Khatritok, Sindhupalchowk, and she finished her schooling from Shree Jana Jagriti Secondary School. Most of her siblings have dropped out of school over the years for various reasons, so she is determined to complete her studies. Despite not having a TV or getting radio signal at home, she has reported for a local FM in Sindhupalchowk on women and child issues, and she aspires to be a journalist. We have found her to be very socially aware, responsible, and articulate.

Ashmita Kumari Mandal is from Hanshapur, Dhanusha, and she completed her schooling from Shree Secondary School in Janakpur. She stood first in her class, but was still the only girl in her school who was in the top ten list. She has co-led a junior fellowship in her village for community engagement, and has been involved in village cleanliness programmes. She is very aware about gender discrimination and social ills, and is committed to being a part of the solution.

We would like to thank Teach for Nepal and their fellows for all their help and support in recommending suitable candidates for the fellowship. We are also indebted to our institutional partners Foundation Care For All and Home Loan Experts, as well as numerous regular individual contributors, for their support, without which we could not do this work!