Finding freedom with financial literacy

<strong>Finding freedom with financial literacy<br><br></strong>

In conversation with Chaarmikha Nagalla on her experiments with all things finance, contributions to the world of content creation, and projects in the pipeline

There’s a spark in Chaarmikha Nagalla’s eyes and her face lights up everytime she talks about finance. “There’s a certain joy that comes with sharing your lessons on finances with others. It’s nice to see them implement your suggestions in their lives and benefit from it,” beams Chaarmikha from the Cohort of 2023 at the School of Interwoven Arts and Sciences, Krea University.
A student of Economics with concentrations in Computer Science and Business Studies, Chaarmikha’s interest in business and finance intensified during the pandemic-induced lockdown. “I religiously followed a handful of Finfluencers on Instagram and picked up many trade secrets from them. It widened my horizons and shaped my perspective on managing personal finance. I remember investing my first pay cheque of Rs 1,500 from a competition in a mutual fund. Now it has compounded at a good rate and I’ve made a profit,” recollects Chaarmikha, who has been breaking down the ABCs of finance, simplifying jargon and educating her followers on social media.

Of connections and collaborations
Budgeting, claiming insurance, investing… Chaarmikha sheds light on an array of topics to help followers make informed decisions. “Financial literacy is key to everyday decision-making. I’m a firm believer of thinking about money in terms of time and time in terms of money. Discussing money must not be frowned upon and information must be accessible to everyone. The wealth of information can be overwhelming but gaining financial fluency allows you to evaluate news, understand trends and business announcements,” reiterates Chaarmikha, who is also the Program Director of Project EIFL (Educate India Financially), where the team collectively envisions a financially literate world by striving to be every youngster’s go-to financial awareness program to intellectually equip themselves.

Alongside finance, her passion for empowerment and entrepreneurship brought her responsibilities and opportunities to create an impact among a larger crowd. Chaarmikha is the President of the Hyderabad Coalition of the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up campaign that works towards bringing a change in the perception of gender dynamics globally. “The more you learn, the more you diversify. Liberal arts does that to you. Also, for me, the drive to work for women’s empowerment comes from personal sentiments given the taboo and stereotypes that I witness as a woman in everyday life. We need to normalise conversations around it,” smiles this two-time TedXSpeaker.

Chaarmikha also previously co-founded The Indian Conclave, a start-up registered under the Government of Telangana; where her team closely worked with educational institutions on leadership cultivation, entrepreneurial interest and public speaking for the youth to be equipped in this unpredictable world. “We identified and taught the key skills that are not taught at schools but are crucial for students to thrive in this competitive environment. We’ve impacted 15,000 students so far,” says a proud Chaarmikha.

Besides this, Chaarmikha’s impressive line of work includes volunteering experiences as part of campaigns and at various organisations. One that Chaarmikha cherishes the most is when she got selected among the 200 creators for the LinkedIn Creator Accelerator Program. “It was life-changing. I was the youngest from the lot and working alongside intellectual minds from all walks of life boosted my confidence. I got to explore and experiment with the world of content creation. There comes a responsibility with every word you put out there on digital platforms for readers to consume. The internet is a powerful resource and I intend to make the best use of it,” admits Chaarmikha who has her plate full with content creation, data analysis, social media marketing, business development and freelance graphic designing.

Campus diaries
Despite wearing many hats, Chaarmikha has always taken the positions held at Krea University seriously and goes the extra mile to give her best to the legacy. The elaborate list includes – Elected Representative of the Connect Club (MUN, Debate and Quizzing societies) for two consecutive years, Student Ambassador of Outreach, Elected Representative of the School of Interwoven Arts and Sciences at the University-Wide Committee on the work-study program, Founding Treasurer of the Economics Society and Executive Board member (Public Relations head) of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship club. “When you love your work, you don’t see it as a burden,” she chips in.
Chaarmikha actively engages in activities pertaining to innovation and entrepreneurship, mindfulness, nature & outdoors, Connect (MUN, quiz, debate) and sports. “The experience at Krea varies for different people. It’s a platform to grow if you use the opportunity wisely. Most of my content for social media is inspired by Public Policy classes. I learn from the conversations I have with peers and professors everyday. My exposure to disciplines like Design Thinking, Philosophy and Ethics have also transformed my understanding of the world as an individual,” adds Chaarmikha.

The road ahead
Going forward, Chaarmikha wishes to pursue a career in FinTech. “I either want to pursue a Master’s degree or land a job; as long as it lets me pursue my passion on the sidelines. I will start a digital marketing agency if neither of my plans work out. I would also love to contribute to content houses and their newsletters. Creative economy is another domain of interest. In a week’s time, a few of us are pitching an idea to investors on FinTech. A larger topic I’m also working on is inclusion of women in the financial ecosystem,” offers Chaarmikha, an overview of her plans in the pipeline.
True to what Chaarmikha’s LinkedIn profile reveals, she breathes content 24×7. What truly keeps her tank full is taking the time out for self-introspection. “Thinking for yourself and by yourself is crucial for personal growth. This is the mantra that keeps me going,” she sums up.

Quick three with Chaarmikha

What are the best books to start learning about finance?

  • The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel
  • The Richest Man in Babylon by George Samuel Clason
  • The Financial Independence Marathon by Vinod Bhat

A tip to keep in mind while consuming information from Finfluencers on social media?

Diversify your sources and be mindful of them so you don’t fall prey to misinformation. Don’t take things blindly, do your groundwork.

How to start saving money?

Investment is the best way forward. Do your research on the benefits of compounding and budgeting. I’d encourage cash transactions so that you are aware of how much you spend.

Experience top global universities- Spend a summer on a study abroad  programme

<strong>Experience top global universities- Spend a summer on a study abroad  programme</strong>

Discovering literature in the heart of London at King’s College, experiencing learning from the heart of a start-up hub at UC Berkeley, pursuing environmental law alongside industry experts at Nottingham Trent University, or immersing oneself in Data and Policy at a Centre of excellence at Harris School of Public Policy, this could be you, next summer.

Every summer, undergraduate students across India step into their break, choosing internships and study programmes to pack their summer with experiences and learning. A short study abroad programme provides them with a diverse culture and knowledge-based experience while also reducing the pressure when it comes to funds, a best-of-both-worlds scenario.

In an attempt to curate a roadmap for students eager to explore study abroad opportunities, we spoke to Sai Balaji Suresh, a third-year student at SIAS, Krea University who has spent many summers undertaking programmes with prestigious universities across the globe, including the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR), Stanford Summer Session, London School of Economics (LSE) and King’s College London and Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania during high school.

Sai takes us through his journey and together, we decode the opportunities present for students who wish to study abroad for the summers. But we don’t just stop there, we also deep dive into Sai’s experiences across the years from high school up until university, in curating an eclectic profile for himself through experiences that are organic but also count.

Summers that were

“I joined Krea in 2020 in the middle of COVID and had consciously let go of many fully funded opportunities from top international universities. But as I made that decision I also made a pact with my parents that every summer I would head to a university abroad for a short summer programme and I did. Last year it was LSE, then HPAIR and now Stanford.

Sai with Nobel Laureate Alvin Roth, emeritus professor in the Department of Economics at Stanford

Each of these experiences have been exciting and exhilarating, providing me the opportunity to make learning decisions that fit my future path, be a part of dynamic groups and meet inspiring people from all across the world.”

At Stanford, Sai participated in an eight weeks summer session where he undertook classes on Food, Sustainability and Culture, People Analytics: Data and Algorithms as Managerial Tools and High-Performance Computing and AI. At LSE, Sai did a three weeks virtual programme on strategic management but couldn’t head to the campus because of the pandemic. As a delegate at HPAIR, he and other students and young professionals from around the world met, engaged and learnt from government leaders, business executives, social sector pioneers, celebrities, and leading academics.

Right from the beginning

With a dream to venture out of India right after high school, Sai always ensured that his academic scores were highly competitive. And the summer programme abroad stint has been a part of Sai’s life right from Class 10. At King’s College London, Sai participated in Mission Discovery, a space-related programme for high schoolers where he interacted with top astronauts like Michael Foale and learnt about biological experiments in space from International Space Station Educational Trust (ISSET) Chairman Chris Barber. Yet another summer, his team was in the Top 3 at the Business Plan competition in the Global Young Leaders Academy (GYLA) at the Wharton School.

A simulation of the future

“My experience at Stanford was like a simulation; it has instilled confidence in both my parents and me that I can do well if I plan to study abroad. At Krea, I was able to gain the needed academic prudence for that, and these summer programmes have helped me with confidence. Programmes like these help shape our personalities in dynamic ways. Stanford, for instance, has a rigorous pedagogy and it can be tough but Krea has similar assessment schedules and patterns and also provides us space to indulge in clubs and committees and events; all these, put together have helped me hone critical skills that will help me cope in any of the top universities abroad if I am to choose them for the future.”

Roadmap to pursuing a short study abroad programme

When asked for a few suggestions for students who may be interested to do the same, Sai shares key takeaways from his experience.

R for Research

There are many options available across the world for short study abroad programmes and research is a good way to start.

“I looked at quite a few universities but chose Stanford. I explored the University of Pennsylvania and looked at courses at UC Berkeley but they weren’t apt for my goal. LSE, I had already pursued last summer and the Harvard programmes were shorter, so Stanford fit the bill right for what I wanted this summer. “

Find your fit

● Finding your course fit is important. Hence choosing these programmes after having some clarity on your majors and minors could help

● Choose courses that offer something distinct in your favorite disciplines

● If you have a dream university you couldn’t get into for your graduation, experience one summer
● If you have the bandwidth and budget go to these universities, explore the academic rigor, network and discover the culture
● Some of the programmes just demand academic transcripts but some may ask for an SOP
● If not a study abroad programme, try internships. There are opportunities abroad that aid selected candidates with documentation and visa to travel and work with them
● Explore opportunities within your own university for such programmes. At Krea we have some stellar partnerships that allow us to go to universities like Nottingham Trent, Sciences Po, Harris School of Public Policy, Babson and more

Explore funding options

For funding support, approach the schools. Many of them, including Harvard and LSE, provide full to partial funding for the short study programmes to deserving candidates. “Some of my colleagues were funded partially by their alma maters and by patrons,” adds Sai.

Why Krea?

“I could probably have made it to any university with my academic record but Krea was the only university I applied to in India. I was very sure of heading abroad for my undergraduate studies but then the pandemic happened. We were to be the second graduating batch of Krea; the campus was good, professors really cared for us, and to top it all, it was a new and unique university in the space of Liberal Arts Education. In hindsight, it was the right decision.”

“When you go abroad you have to cope with multiple things beyond academics, such as living alone and sometimes when you come from a certain educational background or board and it may or may not work. Everything is so ambiguous in the beginning, and then comes homesickness and the pandemic was all about being connected virtually. It’s a great idea to study in a university close to your roots which match global standards and then do summer programmes and mould yourself for a life of study abroad, probably through a Master’s.”

Being at Krea and helping build its legacy is something close to Sai’s heart. The buddy system at Krea where a senior is assigned to an incoming student was one of the major reasons that drew Sai to Krea.

At Krea he has interned as a mentor and operations intern with Mentor Match, supporting edtech the startup in its initial stages and also worked as an author for Riskpro Management Consultancy. Sai has also had varied internship experiences over time including one at Padma Shri awardee and the famous Pad Man of India Arunachalam Muruganantham’s factory at Coimbatore during his high school. He also has spent considerable time working with an NGO providing accessible education modules to underserved community schools. Sai believes many of these experiences have made him realise the privilege he holds and how his future path should have an impact on enabling changes not just for himself but for others who may not have as many choices as him.

“In the future, I plan to do something which is more altruistic beyond the conventional, work towards social causes and the planet while creating impact in domains of behavioural sciences, sustainability, and public policy, says Sai as he signs off.

My Journey to Krea

<strong>My Journey to Krea</strong>

By Rama Vaishnavi Bhogavilli, SIAS Cohort of 2025

Where it all began

“It all started seven months ago when I decided to do an internship that aims to help students find their right career routes and make them aware of the opportunities beyond school. Until then, I neither had much awareness of the prospects outside nor was I aspiring to do anything significant. It was after I undertook this internship that the desire to do something worthy started growing. The career path I wished to choose was still very ambiguous. I interacted with a graduate from the University of Hyderabad and her work truly inspired me, at that time I wanted to study something of the same accord. With a dilemma I had on the path I should choose, I started exploring more options. That is when I heard of the concept of liberal education. It was very new to me and I was barely aware of this field or the universities that encourage this sort of education. I started reaching out and interacting with a diverse set of people and based on the information I received, I was completely convinced that this was the right choice for me.”

Liberal education calling

Being a completely new stream, I wanted to get into the best institutions that encouraged this kind of inquisitiveness in us as learners. During my extensive search, one of my cousins strongly recommended Krea as the best choice for me. I hadn’t heard of the university before but after getting a thorough idea of Krea- the Interwoven Learning, extensive non-academic engagements and more, I was deeply impressed with the way of education here. Social studies is the subject that fascinates me the most and something I wish to pursue down my career path too. I have tried engaging in relevant classes and activities, and I am extremely glad that Krea allows and provides a lot of scope to explore the discipline. We have the opportunity to explore varied ideas and perspectives on the subjects which are multi-dimensional and the internships curated for us at NGOs across the country are very helpful. Another area of my interest is Computer Science which has undoubtedly become one of the most essential disciplines in this technology-driven world. 

New beginnings at Krea

In addition to that, apart from academics, I have always had a keen interest in in different extracurricular activities. The spectrum of such activities offered at Krea through various clubs is wide-ranging and there is something to do, within and beyond the classrooms at all times.  Without much ado, I applied to Krea, and after a the entire process of admissions and eventual joining and orientation, I am now at university. It’s been a month and I thoroughly enjoy each moment of my campus life. I am reassured that I have taken the right decision. Despite the little challenges I face in this new environment, I have people here who are always with me and encouraging me at each step. This is a phase I am delighted to experience.

My journey to Krea

<strong>My journey to Krea</strong>

By Wahiq Iqbal, Cohort of 2025

A little something about me

I am Wahiq Iqbal and I come from Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, a beautiful valley nestled between mountains. I am currently a first-year student at Krea University and plan to major in Computer Science. I love designing and also enjoy photography. I am an introvert but I easily open up to people I feel comfortable with.

My journey to Krea

My journey to Krea started in February 2022, when I had just undertaken my 12th class examinations and was worried about my future. I was feeling anxious about getting into a good university. In the process, I was researching on colleges voraciously to see which one would suit me best, and that’s when I suddenly stumbled upon a vlogger, Gauri Goyal who at that time was a third-year student at Krea. She had uploaded a vlog showcasing a full campus tour of Krea and that’s what really piqued my interest to come to Krea.

I didn’t have any idea of what I wanted to become as I loved designing but I had chosen science in my 11th and 12th classes. Hence choosing a variety of subjects and keeping avenues open will provide me the flexibility in choosing my pathway in the future. Picking something based on how much you enjoy doing it and find interesting is as good a reason as any, so don’t be afraid to not have your whole life planned ahead of you. I went through the same experience before joining Krea.

I submitted my application form on the last date of the deadline and that too with a lot of typos and errors. For a long time, I didn’t hear anything from Krea and I was losing hope but a few months later when I finally got accepted for the Online Krea Immersive Case (OKIC) round, my happiness knew no bounds. The professors on the OKIC day were so friendly, and I also got to meet fellow aspirants. Before coming to the campus, we had a WhatsApp discussion group where we would get to know each other, our experiences and share varied thoughts.

To speak about my joy at starting my university life, I have to say I was excited to come to university for many reasons. A major one was the independence I would gain, and control over when, how, and where I wish to do things (except lectures of course). Maggi at 1 AM is allowed because no one can stop you (though that’s not healthy, so perhaps the only thing stopping you is your conscience). Another reason was the variety of clubs and committees you can join, anything you can think of, and beyond, it is right here. And if it isn’t already, you can create one and run it yourself. Last but not the least, I am here to learn, and get my degree.

The journey to Krea has been tough but I am incredibly grateful for the fantastic friends I have made, the experiences I have had, and the ones to come.

On the Research Quest

On the Research Quest

5 Students at Krea share their stories as budding researchers

In a world that’s evolving faster than ever before, the most critical of questions are novel and unscripted. Knowledge driven growth that’s fuelled by innovation is the need of the hour.

Students at Krea are on a quest for knowledge, some of them having trod onto the path of research much prior to stepping into the world of Krea. They are curious investigators with research interests across the social, political, scientific, and technical spectrum. Questioning the status quo, attempting to solve the unanswered, challenging their own selves, advancing knowledge, each of them are reshaping the norm.

Hear their stories in their own words.

Prashanthi Subbiah from SIAS Cohort of 2023

Ground Zero

I think my interest in research began as a quest to understand certain aspects, be it an event or a fact that is widely accepted. I have always been someone who asks questions. To bring up an example related to the subjects I have taken up in university, if a major political event took place, I would always ask why was it such a big deal; sometimes I wouldn’t fully understand what news channels were making a fuss about. More often than not, I would ask my parents, and they always encouraged me to seek out answers for myself. After a while, it became a habit for me to do a quick Google search after I find out about something new. 

R for Research

Most of my research experience has been at Krea. I was part of a group of researchers in summer 2021, under Prof Sumitra Ranganathan and Prof Naina Majrekar to track slave trade along the Coromandel Coast (with specific focus on Pulicat Lake) by the Dutch East India Company. We made data visualisations and compiled literature on the same. My second research internship at Krea was with the Sharma Centre for Heritage Education, under Prof Shanti Pappu, Dr Kumar Akhilesh, and Dr Prachi Joshi. All 3 of them taught us step-by-step about stone tools found at a Paleolithic site, 70 kms from Chennai. We began with the most basic concepts, such as differentiating between a stone tool and naturally-occurring stones and then delved into how these tools were excavated, preserved and different techniques used to analyse them to obtain more information such as a tool’s use. Using this knowledge, we created an educational video on these topics, which was aimed specifically for school children. 

A Milestone

I have done in-depth research essays and papers for my coursework, and for a book I wrote on 20th Century History. This book initially started as a compilation of notes to help myself study, as I wasn’t satisfied with how I was performing in class. I did research, both virtual and physical which greatly improved my understanding of the material. Eventually I published it to help other students and teachers out there in 2020-21. 

One chapter at a time 

There is a unique feeling that sticks with me every time I step into a research project. At the very beginning, the task I am looking at always seems enormous. I feel like I have a lot to learn and process each time I begin a new project, and that need to understand motivates me to get organised and start putting my thoughts together little-by-little until I’m able to come up with something substantial. This process is a journey of its own, which gets me into the groove of working on a research project. 

An evolving worldview

A major takeaway for me has been to always have my mind open, and be ready for new information. Especially in a time dominated by technology, where information is more accessible than ever, it can become overwhelming at times. So, the importance of being ready to assimilate as much as you can, as well as obtaining the important facts from much of the noise has become paramount to how I look at everyday aspects.

Exploring pathways

I am considering a career in research and I believe for any career path, subject knowledge is a requirement, and obtaining it would require some degree of research. These experiences have also been humbling learning experiences, as I have always stepped in with very little knowledge, which goes to show how important having an open mind is. I have also had to be very persistent and have fine eye for detail as well, which have definitely shaped me as a person.

Vishesh Agarwal from SIAS Cohort of 2023

The Starting Point

It all started when I read a lot of history and political science during the pandemic and got to know about the illustrious and rather unknown beauties of Calcutta, the Beth-El Synagogue and the Meghan David Synagogue. I got to know how events transpired and these pieces of excellence were left to rot. Surprisingly these synagogues did not have a rabbi and both of them are rather significant for the Jews around the world, especially our subcontinent. That’s how I had my first research experience.

A gateway to experiences 

All my work may not be pure research but I enjoy interviewing people and learning from their lives over the years. For example, I have always been fond of Cholas and their art and I got the opportunity to visit their museum of collected works of Chola artists over the last few decades and spent time with a couple of Chola painters and an academic there, understanding them better. At Krea, I have done more structured projects like with IC3 movement where we conducted a survey of counselors and tried to provide for an analysis and with the help of Bhakti Shah, Krea’s Director of Outreach, I led a project where other collaborating universities were solely represented by professors, while we were represented by our students. Prof Chirag Dhara and I share the same interests in the current radical changes in Chile which we researched and discussed at great length about with other students bringing in ideas from their area of interest. Even though it was my first year at Krea, I got a research opportunity with Equity in Higher Education where I helped them to create a university database for students from the Bahujan community so that they get benefited with better education alongside an inclusive peer group. Lastly, the experience with Professor Kalpita Bhar Paul was greatly inspired by the IPCC report that stated many metropolitan cities of India might not exist in near future, including Kolkata, my home town. I wanted to know more about the subject and my mentor was truly helpful in this regard. 


In research, even when you are working with hard data and raw facts, the stories behind those facts make you more sensitive to the fact instead of disbanding it as a statistic. This not only helped me with being more sensitive and empathetic but also made me feel inspired by their struggles. 

The lessons learnt

I am not too sure about my career options as of now but I see being a researcher as one of the top options for sure. These experiences have definitely equipped me with a lot of tools that will come in handy no matter what. What it has helped me most with is the comfort of saying ‘I don’t know’ because as a researcher you can disprove something but cannot always come up with an alternative and then accepting that you don’t know helps in life too because we are always trying to prove ourselves as someone who knows everything. 

New perspectives, varied lenses

Research gives you an opportunity to evolve as a scholar but at Krea every day I see things with new perspectives from different lenses. Even though you might not be aligned to that, it’s important to know the other side and that sensitivity and patience is a gift of research.

Agnij Purushothaman from SIAS Cohort of 2023

The Research and the researcher

Research, to me, is a symbiotic relationship between the researched and the ‘researched’. Sure, the researcher gives life to information, but I feel what makes me enjoy research so much is not the result of novelty, but the process. I tend to work with my information and data as a counterpart, not something under or above me that fosters my interest. My first experience with research was in high school, and I clearly remember trying my best to not be overwhelmed by the scale of the research processes. It was very basic research and data collection and interpretation with regard to stock markets, but I remember coming out of that project a little more stoked to search for more. 

The research journey

My first proper research opportunity was over this summer break at Krea. I worked with my peers alongside Prof Soumyajit Bhar on a project that intended to understand notions of the good life and its connection to the climate crisis, consumption patterns and popular sustainability discourse. In particular, a small group including me looked at religion (or the absence of it) and its connection to the good life. It was loaded, and a deeply personal topic I am very passionate about. I can confidently say that it was more than just a means to an end sort of project, it was more of something to work with continually in the future, considering the relevancy and nature of the subject. I look forward to working deeper on the same. Outside Krea, I keep myself engaged with topics I am deeply interested in, some of them include temple history, classical music, astronomy, animal conservation and earth science, among others. 

Chapters in revelations

One of the biggest emotional and existential setbacks I have had was during my summer internship at Krea itself. Intricacies of the climate crisis and its implications on the human psyche are immense, and there are already terms like climate anxiety that are floating around. During that time, I encountered overwhelming evidence of the extremely unfortunate trajectory of the global economy and mainly, its implications on the global South. That 1% of the elite that skims off of most of the wealth of the world nagged me, continuously. But I also realised that, even though it may sound cynical and pessimistic, the only way to move forward in research is to sometimes digest it as the bitter reality, and use that as motivation to find something alternate that can propel your mind out of that rut. To me, that was turning away from economic solutions and looking at political and environmental solutions for the inequitable economy. That helped me steer around the wealth inequality crisis, and look for light down that dark tunnel. 

Gearing up for the research trail

I can’t affirm it yet but I am definitely considering a career in research. A professor at Krea once explained the scope of research to me in the form of a pie. What is already out there constitutes about 90% of the information that is used and interpreted. Novel research topics, however, constitute just about 10% of the pie. In that 10%, individuals trying to decode and find something novel, are mere specks. My personality has definitely changed through these experiences, and I consider making peace with the fact that novel and meaningful research comes from a deeply focused and determined headspace and methodology is the first step toward gearing up for a career path in research, and that’s something I intend to primarily work on.

Accumulating knowledge, amplifying learnings

There is no point in research if you don’t come out of it with little to lots of changes in your perceptions of the subject matter. Instead of evolving, I’d rather say that I increment what I find meaningful from my research to my personality. It’s more of a cumulative journey of the self through research than a metamorphic one that is more like evolving to me, personally. These research experience mainly add to the knowledge that I already have, reinforcing it, correcting it, and updating it constantly.

Naveen Prasad Alex from SIAS Cohort of 2022

Turning passion into pathway

There was no ground zero for me, because ecology or wildlife butterflies have been a passion for me since my childhood and it was just about taking my passion to the next level, getting it more systematic and scientific.

It’s all about the butterflies 

In Krea most of my research experiences were under the mentorship of Prof Shivani Jadeja, the studies on butterfly lifecycles and migration. The study on migration being covered under research internship and research assistance stints and two short communication papers have been published related to the migration study we did.

My capstone thesis revolved around butterfly migrations too. One of the remarkable butterfly migrations in India is The Danainae butterfly migration through southern India. Even though some studies have been based on limited data and opportunistic observations, this phenomenon remains largely understudied. My thesis utilised citizen science data on the occurrence of Tirumala limniace, Tirumala septentrionis Euploea core to find out seasonal changes in the occurrence of these butterflies, indicating potential migratory patterns. This study helps to better understand migratory patterns for Danainae butterfly migration through southern India.

Research comes with its own set of unique experiences, for me one of them was around my capstone thesis. I was planning to work on a topic which involved quite some lab work, it was on how temperature variations affect the feeding patterns of butterfly larvae during the metamorphosis. But thanks to COVID, access was limited and I had to think on my feet to work on something that I could still do within the limitations of the world shutting down. I had to change the topic to ‘Tracking butterfly migration in India using historic and citizen science data’ and even though it is challenging,  the study results have been very interesting, with a potential of getting published.

Penning new chapters

I plan to pursue a career in research and academics and I am at the moment undertaking a Masters at University of Helsinki in ecology and evolution. Having professional research experience, especially at Krea, gave me more clarity on what I should do, and essentially helped identify my specific interests within ecology itself.

Meghana Mantha  from SIAS Cohort of 2024

Where it all began

I have been into active research for the past 5 years. It all started with reading and observing my surroundings and the curiosity to know more about topics that interested me. Some of the topics that interest me but are slightly odd are Colleges & Admissions, Career Services, Countries, and Cultures, and I haven’t really explored Academic Research or worked in proper research setting at a university. This interest led me to take up a Research Project under Professor Soumyajit Bhar on the topic of Consumer Behaviour, Choices, and Patterns under factors like Social, Individual, and Cultural. This project was interesting and dealt with the topic of Sustainable Fashion and it was very new to me. Hence, exploring the topic and getting involved in the process was quite fascinating and insightful. 

In pursuit of a passion

I started my Journey as a Researcher and Writer at a few American Student-led organisations and then progressed towards my passion which is College Admissions and Career Services. Over time, I researched more about colleges, what makes a good profile to get into a top college? How can one find opportunities as a student? And many more questions like that, I’ve also mentored many students in the past five years in getting into their top college choices or paid internships. In this process, I fell in love with Outreach and Communications. I enjoyed networking with people, building connections, and helping Teen Entrepreneurs. 

In the pursuit of improving my skills in the field of Research in the domain of Education concentrating on Admissions and Career Services, I started working with a Harvard Master’s Student. My Research focuses on Top Colleges for Undergrad in India and Abroad specifically focusing on the USA, Domestic and International Competitor Analysis, Student Profiling, and Blogging. I love my work on these and I am looking forward to pursuing my passion and research interests further.

The Evolution

When I started off with my journey in research at the age of 14, I was in a mindset that every research project that we take up regardless of the domain is the same but eventually, after working on Academic related research projects where I had to work with a team, go through the process from the start, conduct interviews, transcriptions, analysing the info we had, was very different compared to the work that I am involved in now, which mostly is best done alone, the research, the questions we ask and, the people we interact with are completely different. This distinction gave me an understanding of how research works in different fields. 

Exploring and discovering 

I am interested in pursuing a career path in research but I am still exploring and figuring out if I should pursue research as an academician or work towards my passion (Research, Outreach, and Communications) in College Counselling, Admissions and Career Services. Working with many experts in different fields has given me interesting perspectives and experiences and to an extent shaped my personality positively. At the moment, I am happy that I am exploring and working with people with similar interests and where I am at, excited to see where this goes and what the future holds for me. 

Interwoven Learning: An experience

Interwoven Learning: An experience

How does Interwoven Learning open up minds to disciplines that are conventionally considered unrelated to the subject of your choice? How does exploring a subject through the lens of another help unravel strands of thought that are no longer in silos and go beyond the classroom?

At Krea we are developing a view of the future through rigorous and interdisciplinary research and education that continuously feeds the design of Interwoven Learning. A rigorous process weaving together academics with experiential learning, broad based learning experience with a deep dive into specialisations and creating well rounded minds, adept at problem solving in a change driven future.

This article is one in a series, an attempt at discovering the experience of the Interwoven Learning at Krea through the lens of a Krea student and how over the years the distinct
pedagogy at Krea enables them to explore pathways that are uncharted and novel.

Hear from Priyanka Kuruganti.

I grew up in a setting where learning was limited to silos. For example, if I was learning Social Studies, my understanding was limited to learning a particular topic in the subject with near to zero experience from the real world. Coming from such an environment, I was trained to look at a given subject and not look at it from varied perspectives. Looking at the world from various standpoints was something I couldn’t imagine myself doing, and questioning everything around me was something I had never done. It was only during my first experience with Krea that things started to change. 

My first experience with Interwoven Learning happened during my Krea Immersion Day (KIC), where we walked around different areas in Bangalore and were asked to observe our surroundings. During this time, my professor, who was accompanying us, asked us to observe a hotel that had a self-watering outdoor planter, and a water tanker was providing water to the hotel. And then, explained the relationship between growth and environmental impact on society. This intersection of various subjects, in this case, economics and environmental studies, is what had surprised me because I had previously looked at these elements as separate entities and didn’t think much about the intersection between these aspects. This is my first experience in Interwoven Learning and the most memorable one because little did, I know that my future would be all about exploring more such intersections. 

During my first year at Krea, I was exposed to various core and skill courses. What was unique about the first year was that these core and skills courses were extremely different. For instance, I was doing a course on Social and Historical perspectives, but at the same time, I was doing a course in Scientific Reasoning. While the two domains were parallelly different, I found it interesting how the same concept and ideology could mean a whole new story and different interpretations across various subjects. This was not only looking across subjects but also within subjects. For instance, as a part of the Data Analytics course, my group looked at the crime datasets and analysed them. One more thing which stood out to me during this time was the idea that anyone could study anything they liked and not be limited by the subjects a student had chosen during high school. For instance, a couple of my friends did not take science in grades 11 and 12 and yet, they had the flexibility to try these courses at their undergraduate level as they had fulfilled the requirement of Scientific Reasoning. This form of Interwoven Learning had no boundaries, and it helped us understand our true interest zones by not looking at our previous education as a prerequisite for future education. 

The pandemic was a changing moment because all our learning to date was now shifted to an online platform. However, this cycle of Interwoven Learning did not stop as we came up with a design thinking idea on how to solve campus issues in a post-pandemic situation. Interwoven Learning had now shifted as we began looking at a new normal by looking at the past and trying to see what techniques could be integrated in the future. With the onset of my major, I was now able to see how economics was related to various fields. For instance, in my Development Economics course, we began looking at resources such as Dollar Street to understand how the poor live by making use of the SPENT simulation to look at the very idea of poverty from a new perspective. 

For me, Interwoven Learning as a process of learning as a student is one which is based on the idea of questioning things around me. The very process often involved looking at a given issue from various standpoints of view and not limiting it to a single domain. Through the group projects, you not only get to learn about the various perspectives but, at the same time, identify yourself. The entire process of Interwoven Learning was all about finding my identity and extending my learning capacities to new levels by challenging myself at various levels.

Interwovenness: The fabric of exploration

Interwovenness: The fabric of exploration

How does Interwoven Learning open up minds to disciplines that are conventionally considered unrelated to the subject of your choice? How does exploring a subject through the lens of another help unravel strands of thought that are no longer in silos and go beyond the classroom?

At Krea we are developing a view of the future through rigorous and interdisciplinary research and education that continuously feeds the design of Interwoven Learning. A rigorous process weaving together academics with experiential learning, broad based learning experience with a deep dive into specialisations and creating well rounded minds, adept at problem solving in a change driven future.

This article is one in a series, an attempt at discovering the experience of the Interwoven Learning at Krea through the lens of a Krea student and how over the years the distinct
pedagogy at Krea enables them to explore pathways that are uncharted and novel.

Hear from Kathan Pandya

Interwoven Learning – the first time I heard about this concept at Krea University, I only thought of its meaning to be that of having spatial knowledge on a range of subjects. However, after two years of experience, I have now realised the immense depth at which the weaving of knowledge, ideas, questions and perspectives take place as well as how much of an impact it can have on a person. My own journey shows how my idea of the concept changed and how I was able to apply the same to traverse through my curiosities.

After the first year of core skill courses, I decided to pursue a major in Biological Sciences. With no decided minor or concentration, I had the flexibility to choose courses from other subjects based on my interests. I used this opportunity to take up courses in Psychology, Computer science and Literature – all of which have helped me explore the limits of what I can do. The course of ‘Brain and Behavior’ in Psychology crossed paths with one of my favorite topics in Biology: Neuroscience. The course in programming, albeit challenging, showed me the power of computational thinking. The patience and skills I developed in this course, in addition to the Introduction to Computational thinking and Data Analytics course in the first year, have all blended into my newfound interest in computational biology. This has led me to take up elective courses in areas of Biostatistics and Molecular Biophysics. Even my summer internship is focused on drug designing using computational methods. I have to admit that I struggled a lot in the Computer Science course, but it opened up new doors for me in my chosen major. In fact, I could directly apply the knowledge in one of the workshops on Bioinformatics where we had to use Ubuntu and Python to work on phylogenetic trees. I am now keen on gaining some experience in the field of computational neuroscience as well.

The interwovenness has not only steered my learning, it has revealed new aspects of my personality. In the past, I never considered myself as a creative or an artistic person. This belief held me back from trying to pursue or approach anything in that field. Nevertheless, the Creative Expressions course shattered this as I worked on bringing my poetry to life by making a stop-motion video and composing the instrumentals for the same myself. This project then inspired me to compose and write a rap song in the Scientific Reasoning course. Absurd to use music in a scientific course, isn’t it? We performed a rap to present the main arguments from one of the plays on Galileo and heliocentrism. The same creative spirit and confidence compelled me to be part of the Light and Sound team in organising a play. A few months later, I got the opportunity to be part of a Light and Camera workshop conducted for an Arts course. All of this has now equipped me to handle microscopes better with a side note of being able to take better pictures through the microscope in the biology lab or a clearer picture through the telescope during our night sky-gazing events. I eventually found a new skill and area of interest in optics and creative video-making to sustain my artistic side. That’s the fun about Interwoven Learning – one never knows what new pattern will be woven out of the varied intersections. Even my professors often bring in connections from different courses and subject areas to light up the stage of what we are learning with different spotlights. If I was asked 2-3 years back, if I would have been interested in computational biology or even learning about lighting and cameras, my answer would have been a big ‘NO’. But it is interwovenness that has helped me tread new territories and create new pathways for myself. At Krea, the liberty to learn from diverse courses as well as try out new activities, with the liberty to be bad at it, provided me the confidence to pursue them further and develop myself into a more holistic person. In the future, I believe that Interwoven Learning will be imperative to solve impending problems and shape career pathways in the maze of options present for students.

Interwoven Learning: Through the Lens of a First Year Student at Krea

Interwoven Learning: Through the Lens of a First Year Student at Krea

How does Interwoven Learning open up minds to disciplines that are conventionally considered unrelated to the subject of your choice? How does exploring a subject through the lens of another help unravel strands of thought that are no longer in silos and go beyond the classroom?

At Krea we are developing a view of the future through rigorous and interdisciplinary research and education that continuously feeds the design of Interwoven Learning.  A rigorous process weaving together academics with experiential learning, broad based learning experience with a deep dive into specialisations and creating well rounded minds, adept at problem solving in a change driven future.

This article is one in a series, an attempt at discovering the experience of the Interwoven Learning at Krea through the lens of a Krea student and how over the years the distinct pedagogy at Krea enables them to explore pathways that are uncharted and novel.

Hear from Urvi Bhatia

“Interwoven”; a word that you may or may not be fully familiar with, but are most likely to have come across, especially in the context of the evolution of the education system in the past few years. The idea behind the interwoven style of learning, that is growing to be more popular amongst high school students, is to combine knowledge from various disciplines and to learn a certain discipline from the lens of another.

As someone who spent the entirety of her school life learning under the conventional education system, coming across the concept of Interwoven Learning seemed to be strange at first. The division of subjects into just three streams; Science, Commerce and Arts or Humanities, was deep rooted into my mind and thus even the possibility of being able to study a subject like Philosophy along with Mathematics felt too good to be true. I remember finishing my tenth-grade exams and immediately starting classes for the eleventh-grade Science stream. And although Biology is something I am deeply interested in, being forced to take Physics along with it really took away all the joy from learning. But that changed completely as college started. I loved the idea of being able to choose my own courses, and literally paving my own path throughout the entire duration of the degree. Classes in college, both virtual and offline feel more like discussions. Almost all courses and assignments, especially those offered in the first year are structured to be interactive and encourage students to form their own opinions. We are allowed to express ourselves in classes and most importantly, even allowed to disagree with the opinion of a peer or the professor. The fact that we are allowed to have healthy debates is something that was new to me, and it took me quite some time to unlearn and relearn the fact that disagreeing with someone is not equivalent to disrespecting them, as we are often taught in school.

The foundation year at Krea includes 11 mandatory core and skill courses ranging from ‘Creative Expressions’ to ‘Introduction to Computational Thinking’ and ‘Design Thinking’. At first, I did wonder what was the need to study a Mathematics course if I had no interest to pursue it in any form at all? But it was only after finishing the courses that I realised logic, reasoning and even basic statistics are important for anyone, even an aspiring Psychology or Biology major like me. Similarly, the writing and pedagogy course played a massive role in making me adept in not just academic writing but oral communication as well. I also know that after completing the first year, a lot of my peers with undecided majors now have a better understanding of their interests and what they want to opt for next year. But out of all the first-year courses i have studied in my first year, a course called ‘Ethics’ remains my favourite. The weekly modules spread across the course interweaved ethics with different areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Politics, Biology, Ecology and even Sociology. This taught me that no matter which field I choose to make a career in, as a good leader or just a responsible citizen, ethics will always come into the picture while making decisions. Moreover, the fact that I have been exposed to concepts such as Sociology, basics of Philosophy and ethics while learning Mathematical Reasoning and Data Analytics at the same time has provided me with an immense number of opportunities to gain knowledge, not just from all the brilliant professors I am fortunate to have, but also from my peer interactions. These peer interactions, whether during group discussions or just a quick lunch time conversation in the dining hall, have helped me broaden my horizons in ways that I had never imagined.

This freedom and flexibility is something that I am still getting used to. Though i am now certain that the interdisciplinary style of learning was the best choice for me, not only because it has opened up various avenues for me to study further and build a career but also because it focuses on the bigger picture, the holistic development of individuals. It allows me to equip myself with skills such as oral and written communication, critical thinking and problem solving, all of which are essential for a 21st century. The amount of exposure I have had in the last nine months has been incredible and it makes me incredibly eager to find out what lies in the store for me in the next two years!

Interwovenness at Krea

Interwovenness at Krea

How does Interwoven Learning open up minds to disciplines that are conventionally considered unrelated to the subject of your choice? How does exploring a subject through the lens of another help unravel strands of thought that are no longer in silos and go beyond the classroom?

At Krea we are developing a view of the future through rigorous and interdisciplinary research and education that continuously feeds the design of Interwoven Learning.  A rigorous process weaving together academics with experiential learning, broad based learning experience with a deep dive into specialisations and creating well rounded minds, adept at problem solving in a change driven future.

This article is one in a series, an attempt at discovering the experience of the Interwoven Learning at Krea through the lens of a Krea student and how over the years the distinct pedagogy at Krea enables them to explore pathways that are uncharted and novel.

Hear from Arya Lovekar

This term, I will complete my undergraduate degree at SIAS, Krea University. At the start of term, I made a spreadsheet to count all the credits I’ve got so far, just to make sure I had enough for my major and minor. Those boxes got ticked, no issues. But I found something surprising – I had also taken enough courses in a third subject I was interested in, and so I’d unwittingly also completed a concentration, or a half minor. Beyond this, I had taken courses here and there that didn’t contribute to either my major, minor, or concentration, but I had had the opportunity to take them anyway, just because I had found them interesting. It would have been impossible to do this at a more traditional university.

All of us here have interests beyond the major we’re doing. In most terms, I made sure to take at least one course that’s outside my major and minor, a small peek into another discipline. We’re given the chance to put these types of courses in conversation with our required courses. Projects and end-term papers for any class can draw upon things we learned in other classes. For a social studies and history course, I submitted a research design for historical literary research. We’re encouraged to bring in other interests too. As part of an assignment in a course on postcolonial literature and arts, I once submitted a picture of an embroidery project I was doing in my free time. No one else has the exact degree I will get, even if we shared the same major. Although we get a framework of required courses, we put the rest of it together ourselves, with some help from faculty and our peers.

Courses can be cross-listed under very different disciplines – literature and psychology, math and history, environmental studies and literature. When a course is cross-listed, it can count towards any of the disciplines it’s under, so the course brings together something from each of those disciplines. For example, in the course under literature and psychology, we read a lot of fiction through a specific psychological lens, balanced out with theory texts. Cross-listed courses are usually a great place to swap notes with people taking a different major than I am, because they always have perspectives I might not have been able to pick up otherwise.

Literature courses very often have links to other topics, even beyond cross-listed courses. There is always something to be learned about the history of what we’re reading, the psyche of the characters, the sociological and political aspects of the text.

Every week, the whole cohort gets invites to guest lectures from a range of fields. Even if a lecture isn’t in your field, it might be interesting to you. These lectures usually start from basics, and so even if you know nothing about the topic, you may have something to gain. In such guest lectures I’ve learned about things like black holes, ethnography, genetics, and translation.

Interwoven learning happens outside the classroom too. Walking around campus or sitting in the dining hall and other student spaces, I’ve talked to students doing projects in disciplines far away from mine, and I’ve learned something new each time. We’ve had star-gazing sessions where a professor pointed out specific stars and told us their names; I went back to my laptop later and read about the mythology behind those names, and how that’s linked to where they’re positioned in the sky. We’ve had workshops teaching pottery, and lighting for photography. Student-led clubs hold quizzes on literature, theatre, math, history, general knowledge – you name it.

Many of us come from schools where each subject was taught in isolation, but once you see the links between the different things you can choose to learn about, it’s increasingly easy to make those links yourself. It takes a bit of work at the start, but weaving together ideas from different disciplines can make each of those disciplines more interesting, and give you new ideas for a project, paper, or informal conversation with a professor or peer.

August at Krea: An Ode to Friendships

August at Krea: An Ode to Friendships

While charting the journey through University (and life), we meet fellow travellers along the way, through laughter and tears, amid wisdom and comic remedies, amongst rough patches and blissful reinforcements, we coin them ‘friends for life’. This August, we at Krea are celebrating the power of friendship, of shared sentiments that bring people together while rejoicing in their uniqueness.

Khadeejah Khandker from the SIAS Cohort of 2024 recounts a memory among hundreds that define the word ‘friendship’ for her. First in a series of a month of celebration, as Kreators co-create this space together, and definite friendship, their way.

I woke up early, resolute to try something new. Still feeling heavy headed from last night’s incident, I started to dress up, thinking donning on pretty clothes might help me cheer up a little. 

Last night, still fresh in my mind, I was in disbelief of what I had heard over the phone. “They must still be sleeping. I would have called them by now for breakfast” I thought to myself but, strong willed as I was, I decided to give them their space. After all, they had called me “Annoying & Weird”. 

My friends were indeed asleep, however, it was not that they were tired or cozy, it seemed they were trying to escape reality through sleeping. Yesterday’s night still flashing before their eyes perhaps more clearly than it did for me. 

Another one of my closest friends, my roommate, had told them the previous night that she would do something about it, that she would explain to me that they had mis-dialed the phone and I wasn’t supposed to hear what I heard and it was all one huge misunderstanding. 

The next day both of them in the hopes of finding me in a class or alley searched the entire campus but I guess I know how to sneak away. Later I learnt that none of them ate that day and barely even smiled, that they were just feeling awful, just like I was. 

As fate would have it, this day was important to all of us four. It was the day we were supposed to go to a pottery event together. I finally broke my silence and asked them to come to the venue.  They rushed over and after a long silent standoff during the event. I started slowly giving up on my resolution; it was hard not talking to my best friends. 

I could see that they honestly felt bad and that I wasn’t even giving them a chance to explain themselves. Finally, I held out my pinky finger to one of them, and though I was still very angry, I knew we four would always hold hands. His face finally lit up with joy after what felt like an eternity. He knew I was still not convinced, but that I too had broken out into a faint smile. 

After a while, we gathered in the dining hall, and after a short quarrel we four again went back to being what we were “friends”. Laughter was again heard from our table, the constant chatter began, the waves of conversation and discussion continued till the whistles started, sending them to their rooms, to get ready for the freshers’ party. 

So, what does friendship mean to you? We invite you to send us any of the following:

– A picture of you and your friends that means a lot to you

– A video that has a collage of your favourite moments with your friends

– Your favourite video memory of your friends

– Short write-up or a poem expressing what friendship means to you

Or even something different and unique – your own way of defining friendship.

If you want to feature your friendships within Krea Bonds, You can respond with your entries to Anisha Vijayan:

[email protected]

Do not forget to include a title and a short description of your entry.