Ayushi Khare

Hailing from Sagar, a small town in Madhya Pradesh, India, Ayushi Khare was compelled in to pursuing a computer science degree at the University of Delhi, less as a virtue than an active passion, and more because of the limited career guidance available in her community.

Early-on in her degree, she realised that coding for a corporation would not fulfil her journey the way she imagines. However, under the guidance of her faculty, she completed a research project investigating how technology can intervene in public policy to improve outcomes, she was introduced to an area of work where she felt she could have a much better impact on people’s lives.  

Ayushi began to think about options to explore this work further. After finishing her degree, she was selected to be a part of the competitive Young India Fellowship, which brings together talented Indian Graduates to pursue post-graduation in Liberal Studies at Ashoka University. As part of the fellowship, Ayushi undertook an internship with a grassroots organisation named Chhoti Si Asha (Ray of Hope) in Chandigarh, Punjab which worked with immigrant women and young children through a livelihood and after-school programme. 

“From the first day working there I knew that I would want to serve for the rest of my life – the community at Chhoti Si Asha made me experience unparalleled depths of joy, love and hope”  

After her master’s, Ayushi secured a role at a development consulting firm. In India, corporate social responsibility is mandated for businesses with profits above a certain threshold, so her work involved researching and advising corporate organisations how to best invest their money into impactful social projects. Though this role gave her valuable knowledge of development priorities in India, she faced impending questions on whether there are avenues in the sector where she could work alongside communities, especially children. 

In order to find answers to such questions, Ayushi applied for the Mother Teresa Fellowship, a fellowship that supports early-career professionals who want to build a career in social impact. With the incredibly value-driven mentorship of the Fellowship, she volunteered full-time for 18 months with the Delhi Government’s Commission for Protection of Child Rights. She began as a consultant, and then moved to be as an Advisor to the Chairperson of the Commission, leading projects investigating how technology can intervene to address issues such as school dropouts, child homelessness, juvenile justice and addressing substance abuse in children.

More recently, Ayushi was a core member of the founding team of the Government’s Child Rights Fellowship. The first of its kind, the fellowship brings together a group of young leaders to work on child rights projects within Delhi’s borders. Ayushi oversaw the work of all the selected fellows through two cycles of the fellowship.

While working for over three years with the government, Ayushi had worked with numerous incredibly drafted policies which are not as successful during implementation. She realised that working in government would be her future if she wanted to make sustainable change, but she felt that a master’s degree could help build the knowledge and skills she would need to create and implement successful policies to transform the lives of vulnerable children in India.  

“When I chose Oxford, I was often asked ‘what will you learn abroad that you can apply back home in India?’ However, the Blavatnik School’s cohort is incredibly diverse and inspiring, and the classroom discussions are spectacularly international. The school made me realise that much of what the world is currently facing converge to similar challenges and questions. Regardless of how bordered and demarcated the world might seem, there is immense potential in learning from each other.” 

Ayushi was thrilled when she received an offer to take the course, but she knew that the next challenge would be securing funding. Fortunately, the School’s admissions team sent her the details of the Joint-Japan World Bank Scholarship. After a short application process, Ayushi was offered full funding including stipend to take the course. 

“For somebody like me to make it to Oxford from a small town in Madhya Pradesh is beyond imagination. For the first month I was here, I could barely believe it was really happening. Without the scholarship it would have been impossible. Many people from my background would bid their family’s entire life savings to even come close to funding themselves here. I am extremely grateful, and immensely conscious of my responsibility to pay it forward.” 

Since arriving in Oxford, she has been fortunate to be amidst the sharp intellect and value systems of her classmates. Her classes have shown her real-life examples of actors making values-driven career choices in global contexts, and she has already begun to make friends for life. Through the School’s career development service, she has also been connected with a mentor to support her future career ambitions.  

“In the long-term I want to return to my home state to work on child rights but I know this won’t be easy. There are already a lot of organisations concentrated in India’s larger cities. But in smaller towns, most children remain underserved. The school has set me up with a mentor with wonderful insights and experience in the space of children’s rights and I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to rely on their advice as I figure out how to initiate working on child rights and juvenile justice in complicated geographies.”

January 2023.