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LESSONS IN LEADERSHIP FROM SWETHA

From a shy, timid girl to someone with great leadership skills, Swetha Upadhyay's growth has been stupendous. At Mount Carmel College in Bangalore, Swetha had a blast, where she blossomed into a confident individual. She is now preparing for UPSC exams.

I am a person who is positive about every aspect of life and always ready to experiment and experience different challenges. I'm an adventurous person by nature. I have changed a lot, but frankly, I was not like this. I have experienced and got adapted to many changes in my life and developed these skills and qualities. Today, I'm a person who loves to interact with people around and it's impossible for many to believe that once I was an introvert who never liked to speak in my early school days.

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SCHOOL LIFE

I was very shy person. Though I was creative, imaginative and very good at sports, but I never appreciated myself. I always demotivated myself just because I couldn't speak or communicate well in English and lacked confidence. My parents studied in Hindi schools, but they always ensured that I did well and also be active in extracurricular activities. I had joined Scouts and Guides and later NCC in school but I quit in between. Maybe, lacked confidence. I was a dreamer and an imaginative person with lots of plans and dreams to do something big and be a changemaker, but as I said, I lacked motivation and confidence. My parents could always see my leadership qualities and my strong will power. Being the first child and only daughter to my parents, I was always pampered and taught to take responsibilities. I still remember the day I had taken my first responsibility was when I was in Class I. Class first? Seriously? Haha! It's funny but I just thought of sharing it. My brother got admission in the same school in the nursery. It was not only his first day to school but also my first responsibility assigned by my father to take care of my younger brother. It was dramatic and scary when my father asked me to look after him. I took it sincerely.

After school, I joined Presidency College for PUC (11th and 12th). I took commerce (SEBA) with the French language. Looking at the competition level in academics and board exams I began to pressurize myself and I gradually stopped my extra-curricular activities, including sports and chose to study harder and score well in my academics. I did really well in academics and also gained interest in learning French in which I also topped in college. But somewhere when I was growing up, I would get inspired by the officers, entrepreneurs or any social workers contributing and involved in social work. I too always had dreamt to do it since my childhood as I could see my father's involvement in it. I always waited for an opportunity but later my father made me realize that it's we who can create opportunities by working harder on our dreams. I decided to do so.

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Life in Bangalore

I got admission at Mount Carmel College, one of the reputed colleges in Bangalore. I was more interested in humanities, but chose B.Com Industry Integrated course which consisted of 4 specialization with the French language. It was my 3 years of degree period that brought lot of changes in me, my personality and my life. I always was a curious person who got involved in different curricular activities from my 1st semester itself just to experience and learn something. I also joined Entrepreneurship cell in the college and became one of the active members. I got more influenced by the concept of social entrepreneurship and decided to finally execute my plans and start with my own social enterprise. I formed a team and we started working hard but something terrible happened.

During my examination, I got a tragic news of my grandfather being passed away. He was close to me and always appreciated me and made me aware of my capabilities. My parents had no option than just leaving for my hometown the same evening. It was all sudden. Me and my brothers couldn't go due to our exams. My parents again gave me a big responsibility to handle and manage the home and my brothers until they could come back. Initially, it was difficult for me as I had to look after home, send brothers to their schools and then leave for college and also manage other activities. But later got adjusted hoping that my parents would come back soon. But things went worst. My parents couldn't make it early. They got stuck with other responsibilities there and they had no other option other than calling my brothers there too.

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I was left all alone in Bangalore. They asked me to continue with my degree. My parents trusted my capabilities and knew that I'm strong enough to manage things but it was not easy for me and was disturbing to stay home alone. I missed my family a lot and also feared that I would not be able to do anything. Also one of the challenges I faced was to hear discouraging and demotivating words from few people around stating 'Girls shouldn’t stay alone or be left independent' , ‘It's better to just focus on studies and not get involved in outside work' , and so many..

I was in pressure, had anxiety and somewhere depressed when I reached home early or during holidays. But whatever the case was, my parents were my big support. They always kept me motivated. My father called me every morning and used to repeat few lines that always kept me motivated and still does. Those lines were "Door Drishti Pakka Iraada, Anushasan aur Kadi Mehnat." Which means "Far/long Vision, Strong intention, Discipline and Hard work".

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I started motivating myself all the time. Just because I didn't want to come back home early I started keeping myself occupied and engaged with other activities. I soon became an event head in college and also president of students' chapter club. Along with this, I did an internship with more than six different companies(Krazybee, Talerang, sketch infinite, ICCE, etc..) with minimum period of 1 month to 2 years. Each internship experience has taught me a lot and has given me beautiful & priceless memories. I got promoted as a cluster manager for a project in my very first internship itself due to which I got an opportunity to interact with many cricketers, school authorities and public. One of my memorable experiences is also that period when I trained students in Telangana government school for around a month and the love and feedback I got from the students and the management was priceless. I also played role of campus ambassador of few start-ups (Awign, Eximius-IIM Bangalore, etc..), and I got involved as a volunteer in big events like Jagriti Yatra, Cul Ah, etc. And I had won a few competitions too. Because of my different roles, I started interacting with many students in my college and other colleges and also with many entrepreneurs and officers. I worked very hard during my degree years. I suffered from dengue during my exams and still managed to complete everything on time. I was well recognized in my college and other places. Many were inspired by me and got motivated to take up challenges in a positive way. My parents, teachers, managers, and others appreciated me for my dedication.

Finally, my hard work somewhere paid me off. I received a few awards like ‘Exemplary leadership award', 'Vasanthi Venugopal Award as an E-cell member for outstanding contribution towards promoting entrepreneurship on campus', and many more. Also, I came across many other opportunities to work as partner in startup, start-up adviser, trainer, social activist and other job opportunities. I was also lucky enough to be invited as a judge for an event at my own college after I graduated.

I'm currently preparing for UPSC and hoping to clear the exam as soon as possible and achieve my goals.

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