“A wise girl knows her limits; a smart girl knows that she has none.”
― Marilyn Monroe
The 13-year old wonder girl first shot into the spotlight in 2007 when she broke all past records to become the youngest matriculate in the country.At seven, she made it to the Limca Book of Records. Sushma had beaten none other than her own brother Shailendra, who had passed the Uttar Pradesh High School examination at the age of nine.
While Shailendra is pursuing MCA in Bangalore, Sushma is in her first year MSc in Microbiology at the central government-run Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University in Lucknow, whose Vice Chancellor S B Sobti has gone out of his way to exempt her from paying tuition fee. Other education expenses will be borne by Sulabh International, a leading Indian NGO working for the impoverished. Realizing Sushma’s poor financial health, Sulabh’s chief Dr Bindeshwari Pathak announced a grant of Rs 8, 00,000 towards higher education of the child prodigy.
Interestingly Sushma hails from a family of illiterates; her father being a daily wage earner and her mother an illiterate lady. “Sushma’s mother never went to school, but I have cleared Class VIII”, asserts her father Tej Bahadur who is a class IV employee at St Meera’s Inter College in Lucknow’s Alambagh area, the same institute where Sushma completed her class XII. Although she lives in a single-room tenement, she’s least daunted by her financial or social odds. “We don’t have a television at home. My only pastime is to play with my two-year old sister Ananya,” she says.
Ever since she grew confident of charting her own career, she wanted to pursue medicine. “I always dreamed of becoming a doctor,” she says. At the age of 10 after completing her class 12, she took the Combined Pre-Medical Test for admission to the MBBS course, but her result was withheld because the authorities found her to be underage. Finally she chose Microbiology for her under graduation.
She doesn’t hide her disappointment when asked about her medical dreams. “Let them not grant me admission to MBBS if I am underage, but if they could let me know whether I touched the qualifying level or not; because that would give me an idea as to where I stand in terms of fulfilling my dream to become a doctor”, pleads the 13-year old .
When asked “What were your feelings when you cleared your class X at age seven?”she said “I was very happy. I did not score too well, I got 69 per cent, but I was overjoyed that I could still make it and compete with people almost twice my age. I was happy for my family. My teachers and classmates were very supportive since the start. Without their help I could not have managed it alone.”
Sushma does not consider herself as an exceptional student. She neither felt the need for any coaching nor could afford it.The school knew about her financial condition and was not charging any fee from her. The teachers at St Meera’s were always available to help and guide her.” Back home, I’d seek help from my elder brother.”she adds. She never crammed or studied under pressure. She would make a study plan and study regularly every day.