22-year-old J Nandini, a student at IIT Madras and former student of Hyderabad Public School, recently bagged the prestigious Erasmus Mundus scholarship by the European Commission to study a joint master’s degree in Health Economics.
About the scholarship and the selection process, Nandini said, “There were three aspects that I believe helped my application stand out to the committee. First, that I had already received an international academic scholarship prior to this. I had been awarded a fully funded all expenses paid scholarship by the French government for an exchange semester at Sciences Po. Second, my longstanding commitment to development, which resulted in my being chosen as India’s youth representative at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya. Lastly, as an elected ‘department legislator’, I contributed to improving social inclusion at IIT Madras.”
“Since this is a joint master’s degree, I will be starting in September 2019 at the University of Bologna in Italy — the oldest continuously running university in the world. From there, I intend to go to Netherlands, Austria, and Norway for the subsequent semesters,” she added.
Nandini chose Health Economics after working in the rural areas of Telangana that have been facing the challenge of clean drinking water. “When my brother, Arvind Jayakumar, was working towards bringing clean drinking water to 100 villages in rural Telangana, I accompanied him on one of his trips, and the experience was quite impactful. It led me to seek an internship in the field at the World Bank’s Chennai office and further to my thesis in health finance. Every experience thereafter added to my conviction that this is where I would like to specialise,” she said.
That’s not all, though. Nandini’s passion for Bharatanatyam led her to start training under Rajeshwari Sainath at the age of five. “I have been brought up in a rigorous regimen in a gurukul like a system under my guru Rajeshwari Sainath as a result of which, I learnt Bharatanatyam and the other nuances of classical arts. I have delivered over 100 performances across India in the past 5 years. Bharatanatyam requires years of patience and persistence in order to be able to master the art and has helped me a great deal in coping with studies-related stress. The systematic rigour of classical arts brought balance to my life and has kept me away from the allure of bad habits,” she shared.
Nandini further wants to get a Ph.D. in Health Economics and also choreograph her first thematic solo ballet. “In terms of academics, I hope to become an expert in the field of public health and policy. In terms of classical arts, I hope to improve access to Bharatanatyam and become worthy of performing some day at the Royal Albert Hall in London,” she concluded....