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Realizing Potential- the case of a Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya student+ #70

+Upcoming Events

“By that part of our plan which prescribes the selection of the youths of genius from among the classes of the poor, we hope to avail the state of those talents which nature has sown as liberally among the poor as the rich, but which perish without use, if not sought for and cultivated.” -Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia

Hi, this is the GenWise team– we bring out this newsletter to help parents and educators to complement the work of formal schools and associated systems. We can help our children thrive in these complex times only by exchanging ideas and insights and working together. 

We are also a founder-member of the Gifted India Network– if you are interested in issues related to gifted education and talent development, an easy way to keep updated about talks, programs and resources is to join the Gifted India Network telegram channel (

This week we feature the journey of Shamil Rahman, a 22 year old graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati. The combination of his talent and drive, along with the exposure, opportunity, education, and experience he received, has allowed him to attain high levels of achievement. If we could do this for all gifted students from disadvantaged backgrounds, imagine the impact it could have- on the lives of these individuals and their communities and for the human capital of the country…

Realizing Potential- the case of a Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya student

Shamil is a confident young product designer who started working at a startup after completing his Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial and Product Design from IIT Guwahati. He showed a lot of self-drive in his college years- seeking mentoring from his seniors in college and industry. He took internships to figure out his interests and strengths and what opportunities were available. That he would reach here would not have been obvious 7-8 years ago. Shamil comes from a modest background in Kerala- his father is not a graduate. But today, not only does he earn more than some of his peers who have higher academic achievement than him and come from privileged backgrounds, he also displays maturity beyond his years. He knows his interests and strengths and has a sense of how to leverage these to contribute to organizations and society at large and earn his rewards.

What brought Shamil here and what challenges did he face along the way?

Parental Support– His father gave a lot of importance to his education and invested in sending him to a modest private English medium school from the preschool years.

English Medium School– Shamil was exposed to English from a young age and had a flair for the language, which boosted his confidence in later years and allowed him to mingle comfortably with peers from different linguistic backgrounds in high school and college. In contrast, many other of his friends from Kerala hung out mainly with only those who spoke Malayalam.

Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV)-Residential CBSE government school for advanced students- Shamil was in a regular government school in Grade 8 and his achievement levels had dipped. His attitude to learning and his aspirations were also affected given his school and peer environment. He had developed a fixed mindset about ability (e.g. I am not good at drawing/ painting). All this changed when he entered a JNV laterally at Grade 9. Though the first year was a struggle- he was in the bottom third of the class when he started, by the end of the year he was in the top 10% of the class and most of his friends were ‘all-rounders’. A significant reason for this is the expectation the school had from students- for example, everyone was expected to draw in the art class in JNV, unlike in the government school.

A Vision of Self- 5 out of his 7 classmates who had entered JNV laterally in Grade 9, left to join state board schools at the end of grade 10- one reason being that it is easier to get higher scores in the 12th board exams and thus gaining admission into local colleges is easier. Shamil stayed back, probably because he had some notion of where he belonged, and higher aspirations.

IIT Guwahati Industrial Design Program- After Grade 12, Shamil spent a year at a top IIT-JEE coaching institute in Kottayam, Kerala. He had started getting a sense of his interest in design and focused on preparing for the UCEED exam- the entrance test for top design programs. With hard work, he managed to get into the IIT Guwahati Product and Industrial Design program. He credits the design program as being a ‘generalist’ program that allowed him to explore diverse interests (unlike say a B. Tech in Computer Science that is more specialized). Also, early in his time at IIT, he realized that he could learn a lot through taking on different projects and internships, much more than by pursuing higher grades.

Initiative and Drive to seek Mentorship and Experience- Shamil sought out internships in different areas, reached out to seniors and super-seniors and networked with professionals and enthusiasts in different fields, actively seeking mentorship to learn. This meant more work and less time to ‘chill out’, but he learned a lot more about actual work than many of his classmates who were academically accomplished.

Upcoming Events

Gifted Winter Program (Gr. 6-10)- Dec 18-30

The Gifted Winter Program is GenWise’s third residential program in calendar year 2022 and is in collaboration with Ei-ASSET Talent Search (Ei- ATS) .

The program is from Dec 18-30, 2022 and is jointly hosted by Vidyashilp University and the Padukone-Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence in Bengaluru for children currently in Grades 6-10. Students will reside at India’s most modern sportsplex, the Padukone-Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence (CSE). Classes will be held at the brand new facilities of Vidyashilp University.

The program is exclusively for gifted students who are Gold/ Silver/ Bronze Scholars on Ei-ASSET Talent Search (Ei- ATS). If you do not have an ATS score, but are interested in the program, please contact us with your ASSET scores. If you haven’t taken ASSET recently, you can take it here.

Details of the upcoming programs are shared below. You can also reach the GenWise team by sending a Whatsapp message or calling the below numbers.

Eklavya- 7046466866

Sapna- 9821112090

​All students in the senior track will go through 2 academic enrichment modules-

Being a Digital Native in the 21st Century (Dec 18-23)

Introduction to Bio-Inspired Soft Robotics (Dec 24-30)

All students in the junior track will go through 3 academic enrichment modules-

Heroes and Villains (Dec 19-21)

Viewing Current Society through a Literary Lens (Dec 21-23)

Think like a Scientist (Dec 24-30)

Detailed module descriptions, mentor profiles and more available here.

Rise Global Scholarships for 15-17 Year Olds

Applications are now open for Rise! Rise is a program that finds brilliant people, like you, who need opportunity and supports them for life as they work to serve others. If you’re between the ages of 15 and 17, then #RiseTo the challenge and apply for the opportunity to receive a lifetime of benefits to build a better world. An initiative of Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust, Rise is the anchor program of a $1 billion commitment from Eric and Wendy Schmidt to find and support global talent. Apply now! Applications are open until January 25, 2023.


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