BENGALURU: WHEN she was in class eight, two schools in Rathnagiri district had given up on her. Nowhere to go, her mother had to home school this girl for a year. Today, at 18, she is the youngest person representing Asia Pacific at the second Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the UN Headquarters in New York.
Meet Poorvaprabha Patil, a second semester student of Kasturba Medical College who was the only college student to make it to the forum this year. The four other representatives at the meet were from the US, Brazil, Egypt and Canada. The event took place last week.
The forum engages members of UN and other institutions for a dialogue on implementation and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Ever since her school days, Poorva has been actively involved in various activities such as working towards ensuring affordable health care, climate change, animal conservation, woman empowerment and elimination of poverty.
“When in school, I always wondered what the point was in sitting in class and listening to lectures for eight hours. I would get restless. The only two schools in the district had given up on me. The only option left was home schooling,” she says.
Raised by a single mother, Poorva says she has seen the highs and lows in life. Her life took a turn when she was admitted to a boarding school for Classes 9 and 10. “It was a new atmosphere. There was no one to judge. No one had any preconceptions about me and nobody knew where I came from. In just six months, I was made the president of the students’ council. Then on, there has been no looking back,” she recalls.
She says she always wanted to be a doctor and she dreams of getting a seat in KMC Manipal. “I had read all about their student initiatives and knew I would best fit in here,” she says.
However, for her, the challenges did not seem to end here. Just days after she wrote the entrance exam for admission into the college, she was informed that it was void and the only way to bag a seat was with the National Eligibility and Entrance Test.
“I came here in September. It got very tough to get a seat. I also slipped into depression for a while and had to battle it out,” she adds.
Poorva has to her credit the experience of working on a wide range of issues - from women’s empowerment to wildlife.
Poorva was recently informed that she was selected to attend the UN Forum. “I was not even sure if I would make it. It was just one day before leaving that I got my visa,” she says.
The experience that she gained there is something she would cherish.
“I interacted with core UN Members, those from UNESCO and the Indian representatives,” Poorva says, adding that she also made interventions on integration of STI to strengthen SDGs and STI Capacity Building.