NSF was founded on the principle that every child has the right to basic education.  With this in mind, we are working towards enabling underprivileged students in their pursuit of education.

From delivering the paper to working at a top-ranked multinational

Sathibabu Chunduri

Sathibabu Chunduri is the first person in his family able to read and obtain an education, so seeing him graduate from JNTU Kakinada with a mechanical engineering degree and getting a job at a top multinational company is a clear example of how far Next Step Foundation’s scholarship recipients can go if given the opportunity.

“I would like to thank Next Step Foundation for its generosity and the personal investment and good faith they put into my future,” he said.

Sathibabu says he knew from a young age going to school would put a big financial strain on his family, one that his parents couldn’t afford. So, in elementary school, he started delivering newspapers before dawn to earn money for his books and other school-related expenses.

Over the years he received multiple scholarships as he always ranked at the top of his class, which allowed him to eventually attend JNTU Kakinada, which he remembers it as a remarkable phase and a top highlight in his life.

Shortly after graduating in 2020, he was chosen for a competitive one-year program at Reliance Industries, where he’ll be exposed to various aspects of the engineering workforce. Although the program has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Sathibabu is busy studying for the qualifying exams to get a master’s degree in engineering.

Here is his story in his own words…

When the alarm went off at 4 AM, I, Sathibabu, used to be up on my feet, stacking my father’s bicycle with newspapers. I had to deliver them before the dawn, because, when the sun appears on the horizon, my father must start his daily journey for labour. I was born to illiterate mother and father, who is still a daily labourer. Our family had liabilities than what my father could earn. So, I determined not to be a burden to my father anymore. So, I started sharing the weight on my father’s shoulders from my high school days. From 7th standard to graduation, I earned my expenses for education. Up to 10th standard, I studied in an aided school, where there was no tuition fee. Being topper of my class, I was awarded with scholarships, with which I managed my books. I got free seat in Intermediate (10+2) for securing high score in 10th standard. I cracked EAMCET 2016 with 2000 rank and joined mechanical engineering in Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Kakinada.

Remarkable phase in my life is my days of graduation in JNTU – Kakinada.  The support through ‘YES scholarship’ , Next Step Foundation- NSF helped me to get alleviated from the financial burden levied by higher studies. For that, I would like to thank NSF for its generosity and the personal investment and good faith it had put into my future. As I maintained my GPA consistently at 8 and retained the attendance more than what is required in eligibility criteria, I was granted YES scholarship, throughout 4 years.

I am also happy for being chosen for Graduate Engineer Trainee (GET) Program at Reliance. The one-year on/ off shore program is said to be designed to provide me nice exposure on functional and cross-functional areas. Training program, which is originated to put young engineers on the fast track is deferred to a couple of months due to the Corona pandemic. Meanwhile, I am also preparing for GATE 2021, a qualifying examination for Master’s in engineering.  I strongly believe that it may further open a lot of pathways to shape up my future.

I would like to thank NSF, not only for its charity, but also for teaching me a great life-lesson: don’t be afraid of the responsibilities, accept the challenge and just wing it!

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Moving towards a future that didn’t seem possible four years ago

Chandralekha Asapu

Chandralekha Asapu, a daughter of a handloom weaver and sister of two, received her degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering in 2020 with the help of NSF’s YES Scholarship.

Chandralekha’s success started well before university, as she continuously secured top rank in her class, received national awards honoring her good academic standing and aced most tests she took.

Chandralekha says her inspiration to pursue a more providing future than that of her dad’s, a skilled artisan who has been overpowered by the inevitable modernization of the occupation, came from reading books.

“[Reading] taught me how to leap forward beyond the limitations that any economically-challenged family obviously possesses,” she recalls.

She said Next Step Foundation’s scholarship opened some doors she didn’t think existed and it helped her overcome “huge challenges in life.”

“Through the lens of NSF, I have seen a wider world, which I might not have found through the books I read,” Chandralekha said after graduating JNTU Kakinada.

Two major IT multinational companies, Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services, were interested in having Chandralekha start her career with them. After having a few years of experience under her belt, Chandralekha hopes to further her education by getting her MBA at a top university in India or abroad.

Here is her story in her own words…

I am Veera Naga Chandralekha Asapu, an engineering graduate from JNTU-K. We are three siblings; I have an elder brother and a younger sister. My native town is Bandarulanka town near Amalapuram of East Godavari district. Our town is well known for skilled weavers and amazing handloom sarees. My father is a highly crafted artisan, who has improvised his inherited skill bestowed upon him through generations. But, with the relentless march of mechanisation, modernisation and sophistication, my father, like his peers, found no hope of relief from the drudgery and he did not want to pass the plight to his next generation. My brother is an engineer and weaving up his future accordingly.

I am a bookworm. Probably the trait of reading books made me perceive beyond what my eyes tell me; taught me how to leap forward beyond the limitations that any economically challenged family obviously possesses. Of course, I don’t brag that I conquered such limitations to achieve pinnacles of success. I am just budding now. I got Pratibha award for securing top rank in 10th class examinations. Adithya Junior College, which is reputed for Intermediate course (10+2) allotted me a free seat. Simultaneously I secured 98.5 per cent in Intermediate and also 2700 rank in EAMCET (an entrance test for Engineering). I joined JNTU, Kakinada, choosing Electronics and Communications Engineering (ECE) as my discipline.

Graduation in engineering carved out my budding story of success. I owe Next Step Foundation (NSF) a lot not only for providing YES- Young Engineers Scholarship, but also for mending me to overcome huge challenges of life. Through the lens of NSF, I have seen wider world, which I might not find through the books I read. Consequently, my credentials impressed upon a couple of reputed IT companies including TCS and Infosys. I will join the job and I will use the practical exposure a prerequisite to my Master’s in Business Administration (MBA), which I am aiming to study in one of the top institutes in India, or abroad.

“The sides of the mountain sustain life, not the peak. This is where things grow, experience is gained, and technologies are mastered. The importance of the peak lies only in the fact that it defines the sides.” says APJ Abdul Kalam ji in his ‘Wings of Fire’; the quote is my motto.

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Sruthi Prathipati

“Life is a storm that will test you unceasingly. Don’t wait for calm waters that may not arrive. Derive purpose from resilience. Learn to sail the raging sea”.

This is the aphorism that the young software engineer in TCS Sruthi Prathipati, who has successfully completed her education after braving formidable odds, lives by.

Unlike most of the students of her peer group, who slip into depression, give up on education, Sruthi has set an example with her persistent diligence to realise her dreams, fighting the destitution her bereaved  family faced with the sudden demise of her father.

She found her way across troubled waters built bridges, and moved beyond despair and inertia. Sruthi shares her success story, which she scripted with the invaluable support of NSF.

Here is Sruthi’s story in her own words…

I am Sruthi Prathpati, working with TCS as a software Engineer. Prior to expressing my gratitude towards NSF, I would like to share my story.

I was, of course, one of the students who dreamed of something big, got pressured into pursuing the most inevitable career choice, i.e. Engineering! But, within engineering, the choice of Computer Science Engineering was absolutely my choice and my father was my inspiration. He was a ration shop dealer. He believed that education is the only way to prosperity. Therefore, he worked hard for our future and took utmost care to ensure we pursued academics. We are three children and ours is a close-knit family. I am the eldest of the three. I have sister and a brother. I was always good in academics and never wanted to let my father down. With a good EAMCET (Engineering admission test) rank, I secured admission in JNTU (Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University), Kakinada (Andhra Pradesh, India) in 2015.

In December 2015, my father passed away. It was a major blow to my family. The whole family system was thrown off by insurmountable pain. My shocked mother was not in a state to believe that her companion was no more. Bogged down by the situation, I decided to give up my studies. By that time, I had only completed my first semester. I was left with no choice other than leaving my education midway due to our financial situation.

Next Step ahead!

At that time, it was Next Step Foundation (NSF) that had come to my rescue. NSF provided me the scholarship from my first year of B.Tech to its completion. The financial support of NSF meant so much to me and I find it hard to express my gratitude in just a short page.

One day, Mrs. Madhu and Mr. Sudhakar visited our college. The day I got a chance to meet the inspiring couple is the most memorable day in my life. They treated us as their peers and they motivated me to make the most of my educational experience. The scholarship helped me financially; but the interaction motivated me to climb the ladder of success.

Now, I finally secured a job with a good global technology organisation – Tata Consultancy Services.

NSF helped me when I need it most, and inspired me to pay forward to the society in the future.

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Divili Veera Vani

The meaning of her middle name- Veera means valour and courage. This is the trait that exactly describes this 22-year old Veera Vani.

Vani is now pursuing her post-graduation in Computer Science Engineering in NIT (Nagpur), one of the prestigious institutes of Technology of India.  She successfully completed her Engineering graduation with excellent academic track record from renowned university- Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU)- Kakinada. Her perseverance and hard work reap dividends, as she was offered a good job in a prominent IT company. This was another decision point where she lived up to her name and decided not to settle down in the comfort zone of a job and decided instead to explore new horizons by pursuing an advanced degree.

Here is her story in her own words…

I am Veera Vani Divili, studying M Tech (Master’s in Technology) in NIT (National Institute of Technology), Nagpur.

When I was in my tenth grade, my mathematics teacher asked me one day: “When were you named, dear Veera Vani?”

In fact, I did not understand his question.  I was taken aback, when he repeated the same question. It is obvious that every baby is named in a ritual, performed on the 21st day after the baby is born. Placing the baby in a decorated cradle, elders of the family name the baby. So, I replied the same to the teacher.

“I thought you might have been named after you grew up. Veera Vani is a perfect name for you,” he said.  He meant that I was bold and call a spade a spade. I was in a dilemma whether to take my teacher’s comment as a compliment, or a word of caution. I understood that to be courageous in life sometimes costs one’s comfort. If you choose courage, you have to lose comfort; you cannot often choose both.

My father runs a small business in our hometown- Kirlampudi of East Godavari district, Andhra Pradesh (India). My mother is a housewife. I have one sibling, a younger brother, who is now pursuing his Engineering degree.

Probably, I inherited my father’s conviction to break stereotypes. Though my father was born and brought up in a traditional lower middle class, he is modern in his outlook and very gender sensitive. He showed no bias in nurturing me and my brother and gave equal importance to our schooling. Unlike his counterparts, my father used to teach that knowledge has more meaning than grades. Nevertheless, my brother and I never neglected the latter, which is considered to be the yardstick to success.

My close relatives discouraged me from writing the EAMCET (a qualifying entrance test for Engineering); but I did not heed their warning about the cost of pursuing an Engineering degree.  My father was firmly on my side in presenting a brave front to adversity. I accepted the challenge.  I secured 1840 rank (among 130,000 aspirants) and joined Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU)- Kakinada.

I am very grateful to Next Step Foundation (NSF) for choosing me as a recipient of the Young Engineers Scholarship (YES). The actual contribution of NSF scholarship to my life is to make me stronger. YES made me think beyond my limitations, it further made me conquer the limitations to achieve success.

I secured first class with distinction in my Bachelor’s degree in Engineering and I was offered a job in a software firm. My duty was to support my family with my earnings. Meanwhile, my Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) result was out; I secured rank 1855. I was showered by congratulatory messages. I was in two minds about pursuing the advanced degree, since it was necessary to support my father. It was the time, when life set a challenge to test me. A week was more than enough time for me to decide whether or not to accept my destiny, forgoing a lucrative job.

If NSF had not been there in my life, I would not have dared to venture to pursue a Master’s degree and that’s the reason why I am grateful to NSF.  Beyond the financial support I received from NSF, the experience helped build my self-confidence.

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