Malvika Raj Joshi, a student and resident of Mumbai, has managed to make it to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) because of her extraordinary computer programming talent. The most surprising element of her story is that she doesn’t even hold a Class X or XII certificate, and in spite of that, she has made the country proud.
Malvika has been granted a scholarship at MIT after winning the International Olympiad of Informatics or the Programming Olympiad three times - two silver and one bronze. She will be pursuing research work in Computer Science at the leading institute in Boston.
MIT accepts winners of various Maths, Physics and Computers Olympiads who perform exceptionally well and have great intellectual potential. Formal schooling is not a mandate in their policies and criteria for admissions.
She recalls how difficult it was for her to seek admission in the premier institutes like Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) as it required basic certificates and qualifications such as 12th certificate from a recognised board. Finally, she was admitted to the Chennai Mathematical Institute (CMI) for an M.Sc level course as her knowledge was on par with the usual B.Sc standards. She continued to pursue her passion and interest in the field of Informatics and Programming.
Until class VI, Malvika studied at the Dadar Parsee Youth Assembly School in Mumbai. However, her mother decided to withdraw her name from the school when she herself was working with an NGO that took care of cancer patients. She wanted her daughter to be home-schooled, which in itself was challenging. She created a classroom-like situation at home and developed a curriculum for her children. She realised that her daughters were happy and the learning process evolved consequently, because of which knowledge became a passion for her.
On speaking about Malvika’s calibre and potential, her mentor Madhavan, who helped her prepare for the Olympiads, highlighted that she spent maximum time at CMI learning about the basics of mathematics and algorithms.She worked hard towards filling the gaps in her education that were prevalent because of informal training and never gave up. She went about achieving her goals in a very systematic manner.
It can be concluded that it was her mother’s conviction and belief that helped her break the stereotypes and prove that it is merit that has more weightage than marks.