Akanksha Prabhu, Aryaman Shrma and Khushi Parekh on winning Aditya Birla Scholarship

Interviews of Aditya Birla Scholars (2019) Ms. Akanksha Prabhu, Mr. Aryaman Shrma and Ms. Khushi Parekh, all three of them are currently pursuing Law from Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar.

The interview was conducted by EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador Hrithik Khurana.

Question 1: Tell me something about yourself.

Akanksha Prabhu: My name is Akanksha G Prabhu. I’m from Bangalore. I’m a gap yearer actually! I wrote the 2018 CLAT but, well that turned out to be a technical disaster. So I took a drop after 12th and decided I’ll write again. Turned out better this time! 384. I’m a science student, PCM – IP. That confuses a lot of people because now I’m doing law. But GNLU has BSc LLB which makes it a lot more relatable as a science student to be here.

Aryaman Sharma: My name is Aryaman Sharma. I was born and brought up in Delhi. I did my primary schooling from Babu Ram Happy School and subsequently joined Ramjas School, Pusa Road. School. My father is a businessperson in the food and hospitality sector whereas my mother is a homemaker. My school days as a kid have had a great impact on who I am as a person. I still draw inspiration from those days in my current life.

Preparing for the board exams in 12th standard was fun, because I had opted for Humanities (against all odds) as my stream because the subjects always interested me. There was a lot of speculation regarding my choice of stream but it eventually bore fruit when I managed to prepare for CLAT alongside my 12th standard due to my interest in the subjects. It felt good to secure an All India Rank of 389 without having to take a drop year. My parents were very happy and they wished me success for my future endeavours.

Coming to GNLU has been a great experience. Every day you get to learn so much outside the classroom and the conducive environment makes learning fun. It has helped me grow a lot as a law student in these few months.

Khushi Parekh: So, I’m Khushi Parekh and I’m from Mumbai. I was in St. Xavier’s Junior College, Mumbai for 11th and 12th grade. Yes, college and its quite surprising how everyone had school up to 12th grade. It is weird because we don’t really do that back home. My family, since generations has been doing catering services and my mother is a homemaker. I’m the first in my family to pursue a professional course. My CLAT rank was 339 and I’m currently pursuing BA LLB from Gujarat national Law University.

Question 2: When and why did you choose to pursue Law as a career?

Akanksha Prabhu: Actually I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do post 12th. I just liked the science subjects more. So I took science. And then half way through I realized I had a penchant for debating! And a friend suggested I try out law. So I thought well, let’s read into it. And I really-really liked what I was reading. It seemed like something I wanted to do as a career.

Aryaman Sharma: Law for me, was always a word that had some mystery behind it. I was always intrigued by seeing lawyers and courts as a kid. Soon I realized that being a lawyer can help you command not only respect, but the power to bring forth changes in the system. During my CLAT preparation, I read various judgments and arguments by judges and lawyers respectively. This used to keep me motivated as I saw this profession unfold before my eyes, helping in the development of our country and society. Gandhi always asked people to be the change they wanted to see in this world, so choosing law as a career was my first step of shaping the change that I wanted to see in the coming years.

Khushi Parekh: As long as I can remember, I always wanted to do something for the society. I am fortunate that I grew up in a place of privilege, and I identify that privilege and wanted to use it for the betterment of the society. When I dwell deeper, even a social worker will have a limit on accessibility to resources. Therefore I decided to pursue law as I thought that the power a lawyer has to bring about change the society at a large scale is commendable and that is exactly what I was aiming for. This divulgence occurred somewhere around 9th grade.

Question 3: What was the experience-like while writing your essays and completing your application form for the preliminary stage of the Aditya Birla Scholarship?

Akanksha Prabhu: I was utterly confused to be honest. The essays were all about self introspection, and that really makes you think you know? And once you realize how prestigious something like this is, you really want to go all out. I remember spending nearly a week thinking about what I was going to even write about! And moreover I was competing with some of the most talented people I’ve met. It was pretty nerve wracking there itself.

Aryaman Sharma: It was a one of a kind experience. When I came to GNLU, I got to know that I was eligible to apply for the Aditya Birla Scholarship. I was supposed to write two essays, one about my life journey and another about what made me stand apart from all the other applicants. The scholars from senior batches of our college helped me a lot in this regard. They told us that the essays should reflect my life and the journey that I’ve experienced until now. A walk down the memory lane was all that it took for me to finish the essays. I still remember talking to my mother and discussing all that has changed throughout the journey. That was all the motivation I needed to make the essay convey my story. I didn’t focus on making my essay the best one, but more on making the essay mine. Getting shortlisted for the interviews brought joy, but also the task of giving the interview my best shot.

Khushi Parekh: When I first got to know that I had been invited to apply for the scholarship, I was very nervous. Top 20 students at top 5 NLUs is a pretty difficult batch to beat. However, I decided that all I had to do is focus on my application. I started my preparation well in advance. The essays required a lot of thinking and introspection. I spent hours at a time looking into myself, my interests, and my thoughts. It was nerve-wrecking and challenging but really enjoyable. Seniors who had previously been awarded the scholarship were of immense help to sort out my thoughts and put them into words. I went through about 3 drafts of both the essays and constant re-checking before I submitted the final one! The list of achievements was very fun to fill as it let me go back to early school days and search for my certificates.

Question 4: How did you go about preparing for the interview stage, considering you were going to be questioned by 3 eminent jurists from the field of law?

Akanksha Prabhu: The thing is, we aren’t told about our panel until we’re about to start with the interviews. So while we had heard rumours that Maneka Guruswamy was going to be there, we weren’t really sure. But I read over her interviews and stuff just in case. We found out about Retd. Chief Justice Dipak Misra the morning of our interviews and I remember our appetite just flying out the window! Honestly we were terrified and more than a little in awe. Anoop Mohta is known for so many brilliant judgments. I decided the best thing to do was to take this as objectively as possible otherwise I was definitely going to have a panic attack. So I stuck to the very basics and made sure I was well read enough to answer any question thrown my way, regardless of who was throwing them.

Aryaman Sharma: Well, my plan for the interview was to be calm and composed while being honest to myself. I read my CV multiple times before the interview. I tried to ascertain what questions would be asked but it was more about the panel which was taking the interview. I was anxious but at the same time nervous knowing that the panel would consist of the former Chief Justice of India Mr. Dipak Mishra, Dr. Menaka Guruswamy and retired Justice Anoop Mohta. I still remember telling myself that this would be a one of a kind opportunity for me to interact with people of such high stature in terms of being an aspirant for a prestigious scholarship. Moreover I had planned to make the best out of this opportunity and also recite my poetry to the panel, which was a unique experience in itself. All this preparation bore fruit as I not only cleared the interview but had a wonderful time interacting with the esteemed panel.

Khushi Parekh: The most important thing I was told was to know my essays in and pout. I read them again and again till I knew where every word was and why had I written every sentence. I thought about all the possible questions the judges could have asked us. The seniors took about 4-5 mock interviews, thus helping us prepare for the big one. The most important time was the night of the interview when we had just got to know that ex CJI DipakMisra is supposed to be on the panel! I ran back to my room and started reading about current affairs, his judgments and the basic knowledge about law. I was very nervous up until I entered the room.

Question 5: What was the feeling when you actually became Aditya Birla Scholar?

Akanksha Prabhu: It’s unbelievable! The Aditya Birla Group creates this surreal vibe that makes you feel like you’ve conquered the world. I was just really really happy. And I got autographs from our awe inspiring panel of course! That’s something I’ll treasure forever as a future lawyer.

Aryaman Sharma: Well, the moment the interview ended I had a big smile on my face. I was satisfied with how it went and I cherished the minutes from the interview repeatedly in my head. I realised that I put in my best efforts for the interview and I would get the scholarship if I truly deserved it. I still remember saying in the interview that being a fresher in a law school made me realise that Dilli abhi door hai (The finish line of the road to success and excellence lies afar right now). The moment I heard my name being called I felt that this was the first step towards Delhi i.e achieving the milestones of excellence and success. But those few seconds when my name was announced will always be in the list of my most cherished memories. I remember reading my name on the certificate again and again making myself believe that I did it. I called my father and he was absolutely delighted on my achievement. All the wishes and messages of congratulations started pouring in from my family and friends as soon as they got to know about me getting the scholarship. Making my friends and family proud was something that gave me immense satisfaction and joy.

Khushi Parekh: We had to wait about 5 hours after my interview for the results. They were undoubtedly the longest ones of my life. I even remember telling my mom how I wanted to just g back home cause I couldn’t bear the wait. But it was worth it. After speeches from our judges, they begin announcing the names of scholars.  There were two other girls with the same name as me on the list. While both of their names got called out, I was switching between being elated and then dejected and then they finally called my name out! My mind was filled with a million thoughts, I was elated, happy, nervous, surprised and what not. I could hear my batch mates screaming from behind which was another cherry on top. It seemed as if I had finally gotten what I had worked hard for so many weeks.

Question 6: How did your parents and friends respond to such a big achievement?

Akanksha Prabhu: The family is extremely proud. And that makes this a hundred times better. They were more confident and excited than I was and now the pride they show is definitely what makes this all worthwhile. You realize how supportive your friends are when something as momentous as this happens. And I’m so thankful for the people I have around me.

Aryaman Sharma: Well my parents were very happy that I successfully managed to clear an interview with such an esteemed panel questioning me. All the credit behind this goes to them as they continue to inspire me every day. It wouldn’t have been possible without all the support they provided right from the beginning. My parents have been with me during the days I spent preparing for the scholarship, so it feels good to share this moment of happiness with them. Also, my friends have been a great morale boost for me. My friends were overwhelmed with joy, which was a due to the desire of a grand party as well as me receiving the scholarship. Jokes apart, all my friends have been pivotal in my growth as an individual and they were really happy that I crossed this milestone.

Khushi Parekh: My parents when they got to know about it, were extremely happy. I think my mom was probably dancing out of joy. They begin calling all of our relatives to share the good news. They told me how proud they were of me and it was definitely the best feeling in the world. One of the best things about the interview being in Mumbai was that all of my friends were there. At about 11 pm, all of them came to meet me at my hotel and then we went out to celebrate. My friends have always been very supporting, and treated my achievements as their own.

Question 7: What is your advice for the aspirants of the prestigious scholarship?

Akanksha Prabhu: Be real, with yourself, your essays and the judges. And also the fact that you’ve made it into the top few of your batch in itself is amazing. So don’t lose heart at any point! Lastly enjoy the whole experience! You get to stay in ITC Grand and make contacts with students from so many different amazing institutions! And you get to have a one on one interview with few of the more eminent personalities in your field of choice. Make the most of it and have as much fun as you can! And don’t forget to eat some vada pav while you’re at it.

Aryaman Sharma: Believe in yourself. Believing in oneself is the very first step of getting this scholarship. Sitting in front of such intellectuals with having little to no knowledge of law requires you to be able to show them your capabilities and the traits that make you stand apart from everyone else. It is what you make of that time and how well you are able to convey your message which is the deciding factor. Thinking positively can also reassure you that irrespective of the end goal, you have to put in your best so as to leave no room for regrets later. Also not getting complacent goes a long way in preparing for the interview. The famous saying in chess, “When you find a good move, look for a better one” holds true in this regard.

Khushi Parekh: Anyone who is aspiring to be an Aditya Birla Scholar, the most important thing is to be you. The panel is experienced and with far more intellect, they can easily pick out those who try to be someone they are not. Be confident and have trust in yourself. Nothing good ever comes out of being without unconfident. Being honest and being true always goes a long way. Working hard and working right is also of utmost importance.

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