Hyderabad girl Nandini Jayakumar, 22, has bagged the prestigious Erasmus Mundus scholarship awarded by the European Commission and is on her way to pursue a Joint Master’s in Health Economics and Management. Under the programme, Nandini will spend four semesters across four European Universities in Italy, Netherlands, Norway and Austria.
“I started exploring scholarship options after I got interested in pursuing a career in Public Health from abroad post a two-month long internship with the World Bank in 2017. I chose a joint master’s as it will give me wider exposure to practices across the globe and access to a truly international alumni network,” says Nandini, who is presently in the last semester of her Integrated Master’s in Development Studies at IIT Madras and would leave for Europe in September this year.
Previously, Nandini has also received an international academic by the Government of France to pursue a student exchange programme at Sciences Po University and during her second year of college, she was selected as the youngest youth representative to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in Kenya.
One of the most important pre-requisite while applying for the scholarship is having a strong statement of purpose and continued academic excellence along with extracurricular achievements, says Nandini, who is a Bharatanatyam dancer and her decision to pursue higher education in Europe was influenced by her love for dancing.
“I am a trained Bharatanatyam dancer and have been learning the form ever since I was five. Europe has a diverse culture and is more vibrant than the UK, US and will provide me with better opportunities to collaborate with local artists. This opportunity will help in popularising traditional Indian dances abroad,” says the 22-year-old, who comes from a lineage of folk artists.
She picked IIT-Madras for her undergraduate course, as she wanted to be in a city where she could be close to her dancing. “Dancing is an inseparable part of my life. It helps me unwind and relax while also enable me to focus better on my goals. Although I had a packed study schedule, I always managed an hour or two to practice Bharatnatyam,” she says.
Being a technical institute, IIT-Madras taught her many quantitative skills along with the subjective parts of the curriculum. “I did not want to go to an institute that was only focused on social sciences as it would not have helped me gain exposure to other skills. At IIT, not only did I get access to the best resources, I was constantly in touch with students from other disciplines which helped me shape a holistic personality. Apart from urbanisation, sustainability, gender issues etc. I also learnt about these sectors through the prism of Economics, Statistics and Management,” she says.