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I spent the summer of my sophomore year of high school teaching at Sneh-Kunj, a school in India for students with mental disabilities. In the first few weeks at the school, a 10-year old autistic kid who did not utter a single word, but simply sat in the corner and stared off blankly into space wrote:
Kill a worthless thought typed in your brain
To welcome a wise one
pity the ailing person
pity good utterance not understood
It is worthy to be a wise person
than a foolish ashamed.
Until then, I had been looking at this boy with pity, worry, and an inexplicable sense of shame and guilt; therefore, it was an extremely humbling moment for me to realize that I had so completely underestimated his capacity for such profound and beautiful words. I quickly realized that I was just as guilty of the snobbery that I despised in others. Yet, each day my frustrations with the systemic lack of high expectations for these students quickly melted as they proved time and again their ability to learn. My students, for the first time, took pride in their education and realized that even the ability to remember the letters A, B, and C was a monumental achievement. The summer that I spent volunteering in India ignited a passion for education that I had not realized was inside of me.
After that summer, I spent the next two years tutoring students in math, science and SAT prep, volunteering at Recording For The Blind and Dyslexic, teaching at Kumon: Math and Reading learning center, and joined Empower the Children, an organization for educational empowerment. In college, I served as a Teaching Assistant for our Introduction to Psychology course and was a private tutor in statistics. Due to my passion for access equal education, I was also a leader of Project Eye to Eye, a national mentoring initiative targeted to those with learning disabilities. These marginalized students taught me about their struggles: the hours of hard work they spent doing what others do in minutes, the discrimination they faced from peers and teachers who mistook their inability as an unwillingness to learn, and the importance of support in their success stories.
After college, I spent one year in India on a Fulbright Fellowship teaching English to 6th to 8th grade students at a school for underserved girls. I struggled a lot as a teacher in this environment. I had to witness the underfunded and crumbling infrastructure of the government school, had to overcome a strong language barrier, had to diminish the apathy that my girls felt for the English language, and hardest of all, had to confront the realities of how the struggling lives of my students outside of school influenced their attitudes inside the school walls.
Currently I am a rising second year medical student at NYU School of Medicine. I hope to pursue a career in global health, particularly focusing on curable blindness worldwide. Although I am no longer in the classroom, the passion I have for teaching and the personal value I place on education have not left me.

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Rithu’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Columbia University in the City of New York - Bachelors, Neuroscience and Behavior

Graduate Degree: NYU School of Medicine - Current Grad Student, Residency - Ophthalmology

Test Scores

SAT Composite (1600 scale): 1560

SAT Math: 780

SAT Verbal: 740

SAT Writing: 780


Travelling, watching TV, playing with my 125lb mastiff

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