Sushma Verma, 13, was able to enroll in a Master’s degree program after her father sold his land to pay for her tuition. His dream is that her degree will eventually launch her into India’s middle class.
Verma finished high school at age 7 and earned her undergraduate degree at 13, attributing both achievements to her impoverished and uneducated parents who wanted to see her life improve.
"They allowed me to do what I wanted to do," Verma said. "I hope that other parents don't impose their choices on their children."
Her parents and three younger siblings live in a one-room apartment in the capital of Uttar Pradesh state. The family’s only income is her father’s daily wage for laboring at construction sites - which amounts to about $3.50 a day.
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The family’s most precious possessions include a secondhand computer and a study table.
While Verma admitted that her home is not the ideal space to study, she also notes that there are no distractions -- like, say, a TV -- to prevent her from doing what needs to be done.
Her father, Tej Bahadur Verma, said he faced some opposition from family and friends for selling his only piece of land, but he had no other options.
Verma was able to contribute $400 to his daughter’s tuition, and the remaining amount was paid by charities and private donors.