[India], Nov 28 (NewsVoir): It was a moment of great joy and pride for the students of Summer Fields and Ridge Valley School, Gurugram when Kartik Sawhney visited them and interacted with them.
Kartik a specially-abled boy, with 100% visual impairment is the first blind student in India to pursue science in class XI and beyond. Often called as the face of ability this boy changed the way Indian educators look at disabled students. Kartik completed his majors in Computer Science with a focus on Artificial Intelligence and Human-Computer Interaction at Stanford University.
Currently, he is working with Microsoft as IT Engineer in California. Kartik is a DLF Foundation's scholar who received DLF Raghvendra Scholarship to pursue his higher studies at Stanford University.
Despite scoring 96 percent in his class 12 CBSE examinations and becoming the first visually impaired student to achieve this feat in Science stream, Kartik was denied a chance to study at India's most valued IITs due to his visual impairment. But he, determined to beat all odds, decided to not place 'dis' in his ability and applied in several foreign universities. His application was accepted by Stanford University.
Sawhney, who comes from a middle-class family, couldn't afford education overseas. Though Stanford University agreed to fund a portion of his tuition fee expenses, it was still difficult for him to manage the rest and survive in the US. Hence, DLF Foundation, realizing his potential to excel, decided to pay for Kartik's expenses at the topmost university. He was given the DLF Raghvendra Scholarship and DLF Foundation supported his journey to ensure that Kartik completes his education without any financial hindrance.
Sharing his journey Kartik said, "I once met honorable A. P. J. Abdul Kalam who told me 'You don't need vision to have the Vision'. His words till today have been with me and have helped me fight all the odds. Initially, when I decided to take up science it was very difficult, at times I felt that maybe I have made a mistake to study science because at that point of time no facilities were available for a person like me to study the subject after 12th. However, my parents and their attitude that I will live and do everything that a normal child does help me overcome all the obstacles and achieve my dreams."
When he was asked about how was the society to him he said, "Initially society was a little mean lot of people questioned me for my decision but that eventually helped me work harder and paved my way to Standford."
Sawhney was born blind due to retinopathy of prematurity, which causes abnormal blood vessel growth in the retina and detaches it from the back of the eye. However, his disability never stopped him from achieving what he wanted.
Gen Kumar Vijay Singh Lalhotra, AVSM, YSM, SM (Retd.), Sr. Advisor (Education) DLF Foundation, said, "We are proud to have Kartik as one of our scholar who has beaten all odds to reach where he is today. His journey is an inspiration in itself and today also his presence and interaction with the children have motivated them to follow their dreams and believe in their abilities."
He is also a trained Hindustani classical vocalist; Kartik has performed for the former Presidents of India, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, President of Austria, Princess of Thailand, besides other eminent musicians such as Pt. Ravi Shankar, A. R. Rahman, and Usha Uthup. He was felicitated by the Queen of Britain at Buckingham Palace in 2016. He was honored with Queen's Young Leader Award.
He was very recently awarded Sri Sathya Sai Award for Human Excellence. He also Co-founded I-Stem that provides online technical training, professional development webinars and mentorship to blind students in India, besides organizing hands-on events and initiatives such as hackathons, demo days and internships. (NewsVoir)