She belongs to a very poor family and her father’s meagre income often came in the way of her studies. But that did not deter Haripriya Nayak from becoming one of the toppers of the Odisha Joint Entrance Examination (OJEE).
Nayak, who hails from a village in Sambalpur district, topped among students opting for bachelor of ayurveda, medicine and surgery, bachelor of homeopathic medicine and surgery, and pharmacy.
“I have achieved this due to the blessings of my parents, inspiration of my teachers and my hard work,” Nayak told HT after the results were declared on Monday.
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday congratulated Nayak and announced that the state government would bear the expenses of her higher education. “Her success has inspired all students of the state,” said Patnaik.
OJEE is conducted by the Odisha government every year for admission into professional courses, including MTech, MPharma, BPharma, MBA, MCA, BAMS and BHMS in both government and private institutions. This year, around 46,187 students appeared for the exam.
Nayak’s achievement is exceptional in view of her background and an inspiration for millions of underprivileged children of the country.
Her father, a marginal farmer with less than an acre of land and a part-time daily wage labourer, had dropped out of school before Class 10, and her mother studied only up to Class 6.
Nayak’s thatched house in her village didn’t have electricity till she completed Class 5 and she used a kerosene lamp to study at night. However, given her interest in studies, local school teachers advised her father to make her take the entrance test for the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, a central government-funded free and fully residential co-educational school system for gifted students.
She cracked the entrance and went on to score 9 CGPA in Class 10 and 84.4% in Class 12.
After Class 12, Nayak last year took admission in Plus Three (science) in Sambalpur’s GM College, but found it difficult to continue due to financial constraints. Luckily for her, a Sambalpur-based coaching centre came to her rescue and offered her a monthly scholarship of Rs 1,000 besides free lodging to continue studies.
“We visited her village and saw that her parents were financially very weak to carry the burden of the bright girl. We decided to help as we felt she could go places with a little push,” said Gupteswar Meher, director of IBS Institute.
Besides OJEE, Nayak has appeared in the All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) and is hopeful of clearing it.