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Against all odds | How can the daughter of a security guard study and work abroad, they asked; Dhanshree Gaikwad answers from her UK office

By Vaseline May26,2024

This was a girl who hardly went to school. This was a girl who grew up in a small village in the Solapur district of Maharashtra, where her father was a security guard. This was a girl for whom the thought of studying in Britain was so impossible that she didn’t even dream of it. Until, of course, she did.

Dhanshree Gaikwad’s journey to success began in the small town of Solapur. Because her father’s job as a security guard at a school was not enough to make ends meet for their family of six, her older sister took a job while her mother became a tailor. They decided to move to Pune for better prospects.

“When we first came to Pune in 2015, we lived on Rs 4,000 a month,” said Dhanshree, the second of four siblings, while speaking to The Indian Express from Britain. “My father had no job for the first few months. We slowly worked our way up.”

What worked for her was a close-knit family and a mother as a loyal supporter.

The security guard's daughter studies and works in Great Britain Dhanshree completed her Class 10 with a commendable mark of 75 percent and obtained a diploma in IT. After graduating with an 81 percent, she went on to study computer engineering at MIT World Peace University on a scholarship. (Express photo)

“My father and my grandparents were initially reluctant to even send my sister and me to school. It was the mentality of the nineties. They believed in saving for marriage instead of educating their girl child,” says Dhanshree, who studied in a government school till Class 4 until her mother intervened to ensure that she and her sister went to the same school as their two brothers.

Festive offer

“My mother did not have the opportunity to go to school herself. Her dependence on the male members of the family for the smallest things irritated her, and that is why she wanted my sister and I to be independent,” she added.

Dhanshree completed her Class 10 with a commendable mark of 75 percent and obtained a diploma in IT. After graduating with an 81 percent, she went on to study computer engineering at MIT World Peace University on a scholarship.

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“The switch from Marathi to an English syllabus was a hurdle. I had difficulty understanding the syllabus, which resulted in a backlog,” she said.

In 2016, Dhanshree joined Tech Mahindra to support her family. The combination of a full-time job and her studies hindered her participation in university. “I lost all my self-confidence and my programming knowledge started to lack. This is the reason why I could not participate in campus placements,” she said.

Despite these setbacks, she managed to graduate in 2018 and started working at DBS Bank to pay off her family’s debts.

Challenges and opportunities

The Covid pandemic brought a new set of challenges and opportunities. Dhanshree’s family, eager for her to settle down, started encouraging her to get married. Then a non-resident Indian came along and said one master’s degree in Great Britain. Although the relationship didn’t work out, it opened her eyes to new possibilities. Motivated by his guidance, she began exploring options to realize her dream of working in a technology-based field.

Determined to pursue this goal, Dhanshree navigated the bureaucratic maze to obtain a passport and scholarships. Initially, she only visited government buildings to avoid bothering her family. She said: ‘It was impossible to get a government grant because of the corrupt system. I almost gave up, but my younger brother and father helped me with a student loan.”

In 2022, Dhanshree finally got admission to Plymouth University in England for a master’s program in data science and business analytics with a scholarship.

But unbeknownst to her, this was just the beginning of a series of other challenges.

“I had paid around Rs 70,000 for accommodation. When I finally landed in Britain at 9am, I realized that no such landlord or address exists. I was cheated and made homeless on the first day of arrival,” Dhanshree said. She recalled living in friends’ homes and hotels without telling her parents about her new hardships.

In Plymouth, she found the small town environment suitable for her studies and affordable living. She said, “You have to choose your network wisely. You will never know your true potential until you don’t risk it all. I also knew my responsibilities. No one checked on me, but I never went out or bought unnecessary things because I knew I had budget limitations. In fact, I’ve never been to London either.”

The isolation, pressure of job hunting and distance from her family also worried Dhanshree, but she did not give up. “I never blamed the labor market. The recession has always been there. I always believed that I had to improve to perform better after every interview,” she added.

The experience has taught her resilience. And it didn’t take long before she got a job at an IT company. While she is now living a whole new life, she has not only made her family proud but has also proven to be a point for all the naysayers.

© Indian Express Pvt Ltd

First uploaded on: 2024-05-26 15:42 IST

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