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Grit and hard work takes Mumbai slum girl to University of California for Ph.D

Having struggled hard helping her father make and sell garlands, Sarita Mali today is all set to pursue her Ph.D. in US

Grit, hard work and complete focus on her goal, is what 28-year-old Sarita Mali stands for. Right from a tender age, she did her school and college education while helping her father make and sell garlands on the streets of Mumbai!

Today Mali is all set to do her Ph.D in Hindi literature from University of California, Santa Barbara after completing her masters from Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University. Growing up struggling in the slums of Mumbai’s Ghatkopar and studying in a municipal school life for her is not just about challenges but also opportunities.

As per Mali JNU was the turning point in her life. Having prepared for this institution for three years she told Indian Express: “I had decided to come to JNU in class XII itself. I had gone to my grandmother’s house and it was my cousin’s dream to study there and he was preparing for it then. My uncle told my mother she should send me to JNU too. He had said whoever goes to JNU, leaves as ‘somebody’. That stayed in my mind. I didn’t know what JNU was, but what was in my mind was that I wanted to be ‘somebody’. I started studying for the entrance exam in my BA first year and prepared for it for the next three years.”

Talking about her Mumbai days she said she spent several hours daily helping her father. “My father used to take the local train every day to the flower market in Parel, and the family would sit together and create garlands for four to five hours. Then he would sell them at signals in the morning. During festivals, we had to work more. I had started this in class 5 or 6. Back then, I used to help him sell as well, but once I reached class 9, I was making garlands.

She found her interest and passion in Hindi literature very early in life and the research area of her Ph.D. is “Subaltern Women’s Writings During The Bhakti Period”.

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