Edinburgh Futures Institute student wins Outstanding Community Impact in Volunteering Award 

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Edinburgh Futures Institute postgraduate student Jay Bharat Choudhari won the Outstanding Community Impact in Volunteering Award in the 2024 Student Awards for his inspiring work as founder of the Dhyeya Educational Foundation in India.

Edinburgh Futures Institute postgraduate student Jay Bharat Choudhari won the Outstanding Community Impact in Volunteering Award in the 2024 Student Awards held on 4 April. 

The Student Awards, organised by the Edinburgh University Students’ Association, is an annual event that recognises the outstanding achievements of students and student groups in the University, celebrating their hard work, dedication, and leadership. 

Jay is currently completing his Master’s degree in Data, Inequality, and Society at Edinburgh Futures Institute.   

The spirit of volunteerism  

The Outstanding Community Impact in Volunteering Award recognises Jay’s work as the founder of Dhyeya Educational Foundation in India. Dhyeya provides guidance and support to students coming from rural, lower socio-economic, and other under-represented backgrounds. Since 2019, Dhyeya’s team of qualified teachers, mentors, and guides have helped 600 students learn new skills and gain admissions to various universities. The training Dhyeya offers ranges from speaking in English lessons, C programming and Java skills, and even personality development. 

Jay notes that the spirit of volunteering is embedded in the programme, as their teaching staff are comprised of successful former Dhyeya students who give back to the community by volunteering their services. According to Jay: 

Every successful student from our programme returns to teach the next generation of students. This creates a powerful cycle of knowledge-sharing and empowerment, breaking down barriers and opening endless possibilities in education. In my vision, education has no boundaries, and it is the most powerful thing one could ever have.”  

Inspiring beginnings 

Before studying at Edinburgh Futures Institute, Jay was working in a multinational corporation in the capital of India having done an undergraduate degree in Computer Science and Engineering. But after a year in corporate work, he decided he wanted to do something else, something that would help him to work for marginalised communities.

It wasn’t what I wanted my life to be like,” Jay said.  

Being the first graduate in his family, Jay became interested in the issue of access to education in his country, citing his early life experience as a huge influence in his pursuit of further studies. Jay recounts that he comes from the most marginalised and oppressed community in India called Dalits, also known as ‘ex-untouchables.’ His parents were unable to pursue education due to poverty and worked as daily wage labourers. Jay spent his entire childhood in a small mud house in a Dalit-Muslim slum in Ballarpur, where his family struggled to gain access to basic necessities such as electricity, water, private toilets and bathrooms. But Jay’s father is a great advocate of education and worked tirelessly to enable Jay and his sister to pursue their studies. 

Jay started reading about educational inequality in India and what could be done to resolve it, and realised this was the issue he wanted to pursue further. He looked for learning opportunities abroad and found that the MSc Data, Inequality and Society programme at Edinburgh Futures Institute was completely in line with his interests in addressing the challenges of social inequality. Jay had no means to fund his degree but through determination, he was able to secure funding from the government in India to pursue his studies at the University of Edinburgh and the Futures Institute. 

Looking to the future 

According to Jay, the Outstanding Community Impact in Volunteering Award he received is a powerful recognition of his contribution to the field of education and the study of social inequality in India. He hopes his work will inspire many more students from deprived communities to pursue higher education, despite difficulties. 

Jay is currently writing his dissertation on the issue of Higher Education Inequality in India and is preparing for his PhD. He encourages prospective Edinburgh Futures Institute students to reach out, speak to other students, listen to their stories and share their own. When asked about his experience studying at Edinburgh Futures Institute: 

“Choosing to study at Edinburgh Futures Institute is one of the best decisions I have made in my life. The interdisciplinary approach at the institute elevates the experience to another level. Being surrounded by a diverse student community comprised of doctors, journalists, teachers, and engineers, among others, has enriched my journey beyond measure. The institute has also fostered invaluable connections that I will cherish for years to come. The sense of belonging is apparent, making it feel like more than just an educational institution—it feels like home.  

Further links and information  

Winners of the Student Awards 2024 

Student Awards 2024: celebrating our students’ achievements 

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