DLF Foundation’s Scholar Kartik Sawhney, a 21 year old specially–abled boy, was felicitated by the Queen of Britain at Buckingham Palace recently. The award was in honor of the resilience shown by Kartik, who believes in universal access to education. Prince Harry, former PM Sir John Major, Sir Lenny Henry, and David Beckham were among the eminent personalities who were present to appreciate the inspiring young people from across the Commonwealth.

An outstanding package of talent, Sawhney was one amongst many picked by the DLF Foundation under its ‘Talent Nurturing Programme’ to help achieve their dreams. Only two awardees from India were shortlisted for Queen’s Young Leaders awards this year. The Queen’s Young Leader Award recognizes and celebrates exceptional people aged between 18-29 years from across the Commonwealth, who are taking the lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives.

Despite scoring 96 per cent 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 for three consecutive years 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. As a result, his application was accepted by the 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.

Mr PK Joseph, Programme Director, DLF Foundation while expressing his happiness said, “When Kartik Sawhney, a 100 percent visually impaired student, approached DLF Foundation for financial support to pursue his Engineering from Stanford University, I could see the ‘fire in his belly’ to succeed against all odds. More than anything else, he believed in his ability. He was looking only at the possibilities and not the barriers that he might face. This trust in himself coupled with hard work has made him successful and helped a great deal in bringing laurels for himself and DLF Foundation that has always stood behind him”.

At Stanford, Kartik is majoring in Computer Science with a focus on Artificial Intelligence and Human Computer Interaction. He wishes to use technology for social welfare and is working on Project STEM Access which seeks to make Mathematics and Science easily accessible to students in the developing countries. Differently–abled children in a lot of countries, including India, are usually discouraged from opting for the two streams due to lack of trained professionals and resources to teach the analytical subjects to them.

Ambitious children like Kartik Sawhney are the best examples to teach young minds that sky is the limit.