It takes 17-year-old Shivani Sharma four hours every morning to cook for her family of five, complete household chores, tend to the cattle and deliver milk in her neighbourhood in Bhondsi. Since the age of eight, Sharma has been waking up at 3am every day to go through this routine and make it to school on time, with the dream of one day becoming an IAS officer.On Thursday, she said she felt a little closer to achieving her goal. Sharma scored 89.3% in humanities in her class 12 board examination—a feat, her teachers said, seemed unlikely about five years ago when her parents insisted she quit school.Sharma said she had begged her family to give her one chance and to let her complete her schooling. “My father wanted me to drop out of school to take care of the livestock, as my mother was finding it difficult to handle the work when I was not around. My father was not in favour of wearing skirts to school and asked me to join a government school, where I could wear a salwar kameez. So, I used to leave home in different clothes and changed after I reached my school,” said Sharma, who graduated from class 12 on Thursday from Delhi Public School in Sector 45. She secured 96 in legal studies and 92 in English. Sharma wants to pursue a bachelor’s degree in political science from Delhi University (DU). “Fear of additional expenditure and outside exposure on girls prevents families in Haryana villages from letting their daughters attend school. I hope it will be able to change this,” said Sharma, who moved to the main school from its centre for underprivileged children when she was in class 3. Principal Aditi Misra said the school made her education and transport free because of her talent in sports and extracurricular activities.Sharma won a bronze medal in open boxing championship in the state last year and was also part of the school’s soccer team. She is also a ragini singer. She said she has started working part-time at a local school to support herself and is looking forward to applying to DU. However, commuting to the Capital and back, and paying for college would be a challenge. Convincing her family would be more so, she said. “Girls in Haryana do not get much opportunity to study. We have been very lenient with our daughter. We had only one condition that she would complete her daily household chores and then study,” mother Pinky Sharma said, adding that the real challenge begins now. “My in-laws and relatives are against sending their daughters out of station and want me to start looking for a boy to get her married,” she said. Sharma said she is yet to decide on her next step. She remembered she was often called a ‘cow girl’ by her friends at school thanks to the time spent with the cattle every morning. “They said I stank of cow dung. Coming this far was challenging. After the results came in, my teachers called me to the school and hugged me. I am now waiting for a miracle so that I can study further,” she said.