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.

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. 

Empathy

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. 

Manvi’s Journey-From Krea University to Carnegie Mellon University

Manvi’s Journey-From Krea University to Carnegie Mellon University

Overwhelmed, exhilarated, excited, these are the three words Manvi uses to express her jubilance on the admittance offer from  Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science to the Masters of Educational Technology and Applied Learning Science (METALS). Manvi chose Computer Science Major at Krea, SIAS and has also been a Krea student ambassador. 

Manvi has always been a curious young student, and it all started as early as Grade 6 when she asked her mother what’s the best education she could receive, and the best university. With a desire to always experience the best in education, Manvi’s path took her through various milestones, one being Krea and now onto another at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).

Manvi has always been passionate for education and tech and views this as a stepping stone in her journey.

“I want to see how I can use the opportunities I receive to enhance my capacity to work for the greater good.”

Manvi Teki

Lessons from the journey for future aspirants

From her own personal experience, Manvi pulls out few pages for future graduates aiming at higher education

  • Believe in yourself and aim as high as you desire
  • Circumstances may make you feel less confident, but always know there is nothing impossible to achieve
  • Start your research in the 2nd year of Undergraduation
  • It’s an ocean of courses and specialisations out there, explore well but don’t get confused
  • Plan it well, also look for backup universities apart from your main ones
  • Be prepared, keep a good buffer for deadlines. E.g- If the application is due in December, attempt and close GRE by July.
  • Plan it all but do not over plan it, give yourself time to breathe

Pathway and Stepping Stones

The Internships

Manvi feels that all her internship experiences collectively helped her be where she is today. Right from the Teach for India experience in the middle of the pandemic to being a Tech Business Analyst at Minfy Technologies during the summer and a Tech Content Curator once she was rehired, it all were jigsaw pieces falling into place, through the skills learnt and the projects tackled.

One of the projects closest to her heart at Krea was her internship with IBM. “ We applied all the facts we had learnt into the project. We had to create a questionnaire using NLP technique to tap into human consciousness to gauge their learning style and the results were used on various IBM learning platforms. We used what we learnt in Computer Science, a course in Brain and Behaviour and Design Thinking. It was a reflection of my Krea journey itself, of applying things in your real life, truly interwoven.”

The Krea Experience

“Three years of interaction with the faculty and not just from the Department of Computer Science but all across really helped. Conversations play a subtle but important role in what you do and what you decide to do “

Manvi Teki

Manvi emphasises how the amalgamation of these inputs and exposure helped her shape her thoughts and choose her path forward.

Manvi didn’t step into Krea with a fixed mindset, she navigated the journey with open thoughts. But everything fell into place at Krea- the pattern of assignments, the coursework, and the midterms, among others. While a lot of students struggle a bit as they head to an international university, Manvi believes spending three years at Krea with a similar pattern gives her leverage. A jumpstart to a smooth transition.

“The whole research mindset, writing-intensive three years, helped me put into words my SOP. The skills I picked up through courses like Design Thinking have really helped. These have all molded me to adjust and adapt better, made me comfortable with the concept of uncertainty, which I do not fear anymore.”

The Co-curriculars

Manvi has always been one for extracurriculars and believes they help shape the mind and individual one is. “You don’t become you just because of academics. 70% of who I am today is not because of academics, what I learnt was out of classrooms how to speak, how to read emotional cues”, adds Manvi

Manvi aims to work in a space connecting humans with tech and even though she hasn’t done courses in Psychology but one, her time training in theatre has helped her understand social cues and the human psyche.

Way ahead

“Many people believe that creativity is in the Arts but there is creativity in Science too, the phone is a creative product.”

Manvi wants to create the most human designs possible using tech, ones that could help a large number of people. She aims to address the massive gap between advancements in technology to their translation to community and people. Her long term vision includes working for equity in education by ensuring tech reaches students across the social spectrum and in ways that can be utilised by them for learning.

Lekshmi Gopinathan
reports, from the Communications Desk

Hear from a young mind at Krea on what transpired in an exclusive interaction with Dr Raghuram Rajan. Kathan, a freshman from SIAS reports.

Hear from a young mind at Krea on what transpired in an exclusive interaction with Dr Raghuram Rajan. Kathan, a freshman from SIAS reports.

When it was announced that Dr Raghuram Rajan was going to visit Krea for a talk, one could feel the energy shift in the student community. Dr Rajan, the former RBI Governor and a member of the Governing Council at Krea, was one of the most significant reasons that attracted us to the promise of Krea University. To listen to him in person, know about his experiences and draw from them is what all of us had eagerly waited for. And now the moment had arrived. 

Welcomed by cheerful applause, Dr Rajan began his talk with a succinct presentation on India and its economic vision. In the light of the 2022 Union Budget, he elucidated how India is changing – what is right with it and what is wrong. From the employment rates to the COVID-19 data, he highlighted the importance of statistics and what they reveal about the current world. Dr Rajan emphasized the importance of education and schooling in the future by narrating observations and anecdotes from his own life. Citing a few schemes and policies, he talked about how the present India connects to its past and how the same mistakes should be avoided in the future. With the graduation of the first batch of SIAS right round the corner, Dr Rajan laid out an outline of the situation of youth and jobs in the current India. Towards the end of the presentation, he gave a few brief alternatives to the existing vision that mainly involved the need to “focus on upskilling” the people and shifting to providing greener services.

The presentation was followed by a fruitful Q and A session where the students got a chance to directly interact with him. This was one of the best parts about the talk since it was visible how Dr Rajan’s presentation had intellectually stimulated the students to discuss the real issues in the world. From questions on the startup ecosystem and cryptocurrency to concerns about youth, employment and education, as time went by more and more number of hands went up. His witty humorous comments here and there kept the conversation light-hearted, encouraging the students to be more comfortable to open up. 

One of the main lessons that Dr Rajan accentuated on was to not dwell on the past for too long and rather focus on what we can change in the now – even if it concerned the past few years. Dr Rajan ended the talk by signifying how important it is to fight for a better India and how each of us can add value to the society simply by being the best we can be. 

About Kathan

Embracing the space-time continuum with some laughter and overthinking.

SIAS – Cohort of 2023

Majoring in Biology

Unravelling a Narrative on Education, Economy and the Vision Forward with Dr Raghuram Rajan

Unravelling a Narrative on Education, Economy and the Vision Forward with Dr Raghuram Rajan

“Our development has to build on our unique aspects, more specifically on our liberal democracy and institutions, and that will be our strength. The future is limitless.”  

These inspiring words pitched the gateway to a deeply insightful session anchored by Dr Raghuram Rajan, as he shared narratives on the need-of-the-hour remedies for India’s economic recovery, on creating better education and healthcare systems, and working on using hard infrastructure to facilitate access to markets.

In a wide-ranging discussion, with the students at Krea, Dr Rajan also responded to a room brimming with questions and shared his perspectives on various aspects, from making a choice to move away from the rat race, better ways of financial inclusion, entrepreneurship and its merits, lessons from history and the need for young students such as the audience to fight for preserving and advancing the India that we have created, with resilience and optimism.

Dr Raghuram Rajan kicked off the interaction shedding light on the K-shaped economic recovery in India and how poor employment numbers are the key indicators of economic underperformance.

“One of the numbers that really struck me is the female participation in the workforce in India and it was the lowest in G 20 along with Saudi Arabia in 2019.  Even Saudi Arabia has reformed, opening up jobs for women, their labor force participation for women is 33% today, we are still at 20%. We have a long way to go.”

He expressed the need for a reality check, on what could be rectified and done differently. On why a country with definite successes such as the largest two-wheeler industry in the world, ability of ISRO to send missions to Mars for a fraction of the cost as NASA and whose UPI is being emulated in many countries as a case study of fast payments, is still underperforming.

He laid emphasis on creating hard infrastructure that allows connections and access to markets and soft infrastructure such as creating more education and healthcare. He suggested that withing the economy, India focus on services more than goods. He conveyed the importance of investing in people and how the biggest concern today is not economic recovery but schooling, especially of young children in government schools who have been set back by two years and are in the danger of dropping out.

Reminiscing his time at RBI, he spoke of days when they would step out to have a meal at the home of a Class 4 employee, the lowest tier of employment in the organisation. “It was a fascinating sight to see the children of these employees work with Infosys and some as bank managers. In one generation they had moved out of the low level of employment to this, that’s what education can do.”

As the session moved on to the Q&A segment, the questions rolled in succession. Answering one of the queries on disparity, he retorted “We have to work on ensuring quality of education spreads from stronger universities to weaker ones. Universities like Krea should become research universities, so they can train teachers and students at Krea could do a PhD, come back and populate the other universities. Create an ecosystem and spread the benefits. This won’t happen overnight and will take 20-30 years to realise but any vision has to start now.

In answer to a query on colonialism and India and its dire effects on India’s progress, Dr Rajan recommended that we look forward and use history in matters such as dialogues on climate change. “Use it to insist on the right to more emissions than Western countries as they have been destroying the atmosphere for a much longer time”.

Speaking in response to a question on financial inclusion, Dr Rajan emphasised how entities in microfinance do bridge the gap through easy facilitation of credit, but the bigger problem lay in the management of finance by the poor. There is an urgent need of imparting skills and education before providing credit to them. In many such cases, Fintech could step in at places where banks are reluctant and even hand hold them, exploring new possibilities and ways to access.

On being asked to comment on the ‘rat race’ and a way out of it, he advised, “You can refuse to be part of the rat race. There are so many possibilities today. As we grow richer as a country, we can afford basic living in what we do and wherever we are. Then you can look at fulfilment in what you do instead of from the salary you are getting.”

Sharing anecdotes laced with humor from his own life experience, Dr Rajan explained how during his younger days, the choices were limited to either the IIT, the stream of medical science and to some extent the Economics at St Stephens and becoming an entrepreneur was often associated with youngsters who couldn’t land employment opportunities. On how he succumbed to the rat race, studied at IIT and later circled back to Economics. He shed light on how there were innumerable opportunities for the young graduates today.

As a parting note, Dr Rajan left these powerful words with the young audience to mull and act on. “As young people you need to fight for a better India, the future of the country is in your hands. Fight for a country which embodies the best of the past. We have a constant battle on what is best and it’s you who has to decide that. The experiment of India that our founding fathers thought of is a bold one, let’s not lose the best of what we created, let’s preserve that. Do whatever you do with all the energy you have. It’s not necessary to be a social worker or work in an NGO, you can produce the best widget in the world and still add value. Just go out and be the best in whatever you do.”

Lekshmi Gopinathan reports, from the Communications Desk.

Krea Student Diaries | What is it like to begin University amidst a Pandemic

Krea Student Diaries | What is it like to begin University amidst a Pandemic

By Kathan Pandya

In the beginning of 2020, my peers and I would have never imagined attending college through laptops and mobile phones. Yet, here we are left with no choice but to hold on to the fragments of our expectations with a grateful heart and mind. As the year commenced with a fun-filled week of orientation in August 2020, I felt welcomed in this vibrant community of students, professors and staff. 

When virtual classes began, I admit it wasn’t easy. Sitting in front of the screen for hours and actively participating in classes soon became a mundane routine. I would often switch places to attend classes, would keep my camera on to make myself more visible, and try things to embrace the rigmarole of online classes. Professors would give a choice to students about turning cameras on because they understood our anxieties of presenting ourselves online. The courses were also modified well to suit an online setup. All the reading materials were available on Canvas – an online classroom tool. Group projects were tailored to suit the online medium. Amidst all this, we students would often talk and share how different things would be if we were on campus at that moment. Isn’t it funny how students would try to skip classes on campus in the pre-pandemic world and now we can’t wait to be on campus?

Attending Krea has been my first experience of meeting people from different places and cultures. I am learning how to communicate with others by striving for balance between openness and sensitivity. Creating WhatsApp groups for the whole batch is something I am truly grateful for since that was a major point of communication to socialise beyond classes. Of course, apart from the abandoned Discord groups!

We had a choice to join a maximum of five clubs, but it would become tough to engage in all of them. I was only active in two of the five I joined. It was refreshing since I could also talk to people who were not in the same class or cohort as me. Club activities are something I continue to look forward to whenever we get a chance to catch up.

Being at home while being a part of a university can be arduous. During the second wave, numerous students and professors struggled to balance the two. Whether there were house chores to do, family members to take care of, to recover and rest yourself or having to stay in the house for long periods of time- all of these reasons had naturally caused a lot of stress. But empathy being one of Krea’s core values, I am glad that the professors had given us students some leeway by simplifying assignments and allowing us to manage our time to make things easier for us. The first year is over. While it might be easier to lament about how one-third of my university life has already passed online, instead, I choose to look at each and every moment as precious lessons I learnt along the way. The university has played a huge role in making the transition smoother and more comfortable. More than anything, I feel like I have gained a peek into the possible futuristic lifestyle that will be dominated by technology.

About Kathan

Embracing the space-time continuum with some laughter and overthinking.

SIAS – Cohort of 2023

Majoring in Biology

Krea Bytes: Aishwarya on her Krea journey

Krea Bytes: Aishwarya on her Krea journey

‘It was the Immersion Day experience that set my heart on getting into Krea!’

For a student who always stuck to exploring interests and topics within her comfort zone, Krea was a breath of fresh air. Surrounded by subjects that slightly nudged her away from familiar territory and exposed her to a plethora of disciplines, with talented peers from hundreds of cities across India, Aishwarya’s learning journey here has been nothing short of amazing. Straight out of St Thomas Residential School in Trivandrum into the hustle and bustle of University life at Krea in Sri City, Aishwarya shares with us her journey as a Krea student right from the unique admission process to experiencing Interwoven Learning in her first-year.

How did Krea happen?

I found out about Krea from an old school friend who went through the website and thought it was something I would be interested in. This was the first time I had come across the “liberal arts” concept, and it was very foreign and abstract to me. I must admit that I did not give much time or research into understanding the courses being offered, but the promise of a unique admission process is perhaps what pushed me. I was so busy preparing for various entrance exams and attending college interviews that I almost missed the application deadline for Round 3 of admissions. In hindsight, I cannot believe that I was ever that close to missing out on studying here!

What prompted you to pursue your learning journey at Krea in the beginning? 

It was the Immersion Day experience that made me set my heart on getting into Krea. I was not nervous, intimidated, or scared at any point of the process, unlike the interviews and selection processes I had been a part of before. I wanted my undergraduate experience to be stress-free, especially after the hectic schedule I had put myself through in school, and the very welcoming and friendly environment during the KIC made me realise Krea was the right place for me. 

Entering Krea right after school, how different was the experience?

In school, I was the kind of student who never stepped out of my comfort zone and I always stuck to rote learning and memorising concepts even if I did not fully understand them. I have always wanted to change this habit of mine, and the learning process at Krea has helped me learn, un-learn and re-learn several things. Initially, I was apprehensive about doing Mathematical Reasoning, Scientific Reasoning and Introduction to Topics in Computer Science in the first year, because I shied away from these subjects in high school. The course faculty helped me revisit concepts I had previously learned in school, and I developed the skills to approach problems differently. 

To sum it up, although learning in Krea is not always a cake walk, it is extremely rewarding and I always gain something new at the end of the day. 

What about Krea has changed you or given you a new perspective?

I would say that the people in Krea are what make the institution what it is today, and I have never before met such a diverse, motivated, and caring group of people in my life. I owe the kind of exposure I have received over the past two years to the professors, the staff, as well as my peers, and I know it would not be the same elsewhere.

How has Interwoven Learning (IWL) helped you discover or enhance your interests?

I always knew that college would be a formative experience, but Krea has turned my life topsy-turvy, in a good way! I ran for the position of Finance and Resources Representative in my first year and was fortunate to be a part of the first student government. This is something I would never have done before! I pushed myself to try new things, meet new people, and make the most of my newfound independence. 

I have to admit that the foundation courses in the first year, although they did open up a plethora of options, ended up making me a little more confused because my interests have always been all over the place. I always knew on some level that I wanted to pursue a major in Economics, and the Interwoven Learning aspect helped me figure out my other interests, and how I could pair them best with Economics. 

What are your future plans?

I don’t have solid plans yet– I am considering a Master’s in Public Policy or an MBA, but I’m keeping my options fairly open and I’m hoping to get a better idea once I’ve started my third year at Krea. Working with students has always been my passion, and I hope to build a career in the education field someday.

If you could share something with aspiring Krea students, what would it be?

I think the one thing that sets Krea apart from other universities is the fact that there is room for all kinds of people with diverse interests- and you will always find a space or group where you would fit in and be able to pursue your interests. Apart from the wonderful experiences (both academic and otherwise) I have had so far, I am most happy about the fact that I found wonderful friends here.

Aishwarya Sivaramakrishnan

Currently majoring in Economics and taking courses in Business Studies and Psychology in the School of Interwoven Arts and Sciences at Krea University.

Krea Student Diaries | How I chose my Major

Krea Student Diaries | How I chose my Major

By Kathan Pandya

In school, we are given a range of subjects to study. In college, there is a world of difference! Yes, there are various courses to choose from and attend. However, it is also a deep-dive into that one field or subject for 2-3 years. With the increasing number of options available, I admit that I was confused about what to choose, which discipline to explore and figure out how it aligns with my interests. Unlike the many people who already had a clear idea of what they wanted, I took some time to accept that clarity doesn’t happen so quickly and it is perfectly okay to be clueless at first. 

In high school, like most teenagers, everybody gave different advice. Some advised that I should follow my interests. Some cautioned me to keep my future in mind, while others reminded me to be practical. After months of thinking and analysing my options, I realised that all it takes is three simple steps, a step-by-step process that I followed while selecting my Major as a sophomore. 

1. Know what you are good at

There is always the scope of surprising yourself by finding something you are unexpectedly good at in college. Krea’s first year, that way, will be a revelation of sorts. When the time comes for you to choose your Major, you would have a fair idea of what it is that you are looking to explore. It is not necessary to excel at that subject area, but be aware of the skills that are required and how it would help you in the future. 

2. Identify your interests

Here comes the typical question- what are your interests and what role does it play in your academics? You can like astronomy and nothing else in Physics, or enjoy creative writing but may not be interested in Literature otherwise. College is when you need to think broadly. When tasked to opt for your Major, answer the following questions: Which Major has courses where most of your interests lie?  In which Major are you ready to take a few courses you may not like just for the sake of the ones you do enjoy? Remember, to know about one’s interests is a superpower in itself! 

3.Yes, be practical too!

Creating a path for yourself, aka by choosing your Major, is a daunting task and requires you to account for every little aspect right from interests to occupations and future potential. I have learned that when we begin college, our knowledge on future careers is extremely limited. But the more you explore, like in the first year, the more your mind opens to a number of opportunities. Amidst all this, my curiosity really helped. So don’t hold back- Ask professors, the internet and people around you about the rich variety of careers available in your list of interests and strengths. Gaining knowledge about the paths that are built and then deciding on your own will also act as a motivator. 

Now imagine these three pointers intertwining like a venn diagram. Bear them in mind, weigh the pros and cons, but most importantly- be open to learning new things and embracing change. 

The core and skill courses in Krea have been very helpful that way, especially for someone who gets confused easily amidst a plethora of options. I would have never known that I would enjoy coding if it were not for the Coding Course! The first year is like a snapshot of different fields; there is a lot in the mix but with answers to these questions listed above, your Major selection in your second year at Krea becomes a cake walk!

About Kathan

Embracing the space-time continuum with some laughter and overthinking.

SIAS – Cohort of 2023

Majoring in Biology

#TGOK – The Girls of Krea

#TGOK  – The Girls of Krea

Say hello to some of the young trailblazers at Krea

Five young girl students at Krea open up about their journey at Krea and trace their experiences through this incredibly diverse community. Coming from varied backgrounds, both educational and otherwise, their steadfast belief in diversity at Krea runs parallel across their stories. Tracing back to the day they stepped into Krea up until today, these bright young minds have paved their ways with indomitable spirit. Read more on their multifaceted evolution and that one encounter at Krea which spilled out of checked boxes and made them believe that Krea is truly diverse, that Krea’s home.

Chaarmikha Nagalla

Cohort of 2023, SIAS

When Chaarmikha stepped into Krea, she had plans set in stone, with an aim to pursue Computer Science and later move into a conventional IT career. But today, she is comfortable exploring further in these unpredictable times. Having stepped out of her comfort zone and having tried new things, she believes she has evolved into a self-aware individual with clarity of intentions.

Chaarmikha founded Girl Up Prerna in 2020, a club under the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up Campaign and the project is very close to her heart. The club has several activities and advocacy related to gender equality right from donation drives to awareness facilitation. “I started working on this in 2020 and it’s definitely a cause that I passionately work towards.”, adds Chaarmikha.

On diversity at Krea, she says, “Unity in diversity is definitely a line that applies to Krea. We’re all very different from each other but have the same value systems and morals. One instance of diversity that I remember well was during the finals week of the Literature and Arts course. We had to pick and explore the folklore of one language and one person had to research while the other two represented/ enacted and wrote. All of us came from different linguistic backgrounds and different skill sets and it was surreal to see such creativity in each of us.

Ameena Abbas

Cohort of 2023, SIAS

“I come from a part of the society where anyone with a background in science is expected to become a doctor or engineer. Krea was a turning point. It changed this notion for me and opened so many more avenues, I realised I could explore more than one subject at a time.”

In her Admissions essay, Ameena had strongly conveyed her intent to break away from the classic mould of being subservient to the other gender. Ameena was very sure of picking up Biology as her pathway to a career but the foundation courses at Krea made her realise that she wanted to choose Chemistry and that’s exactly what she did.

Experiences have punctuated Ameena’s journey at Krea and she counts on her two-month long internship with Led By Foundation, who empower young girls belonging to the minority community empowerment by providing them with real-life career skills, a supportive ecosystem, and access to the right opportunities and networks. Ameena found the opportunity transformational as it allowed her to work with girls her age and more, facing issues in the society that she too had undergone.

Speaking about diversity at Krea, Ameena says, “ The diverse cohort of students at Krea is something that stands out. Even having a roommate teaches one so much. Two people from different cultures, distinct ways of studying, varied point of views, these really have helped me become a better individual with an open mind.”

Maitri Modi

Cohort of 2022, SIAS

“ I come from a CBSE school with a science background with no exposure to Arts and Humanities. And then Krea happened, I realised how much I enjoyed these too. I think Krea helped me transform from a solo artist to a team player, the focus now is always on group growth and not just individual growth,” says Maitri.

Maitri believes that the Krea journey has allowed her to keep her core values and principles intact while she has become more grounded, stable and calm. She can now understand claims and differentiate evidence. Ethics has been a course that has stayed with her and thanks to the same, she is now pursuing a capstone thesis on data privacy and ethics.

Refreshingly, Maitri’s take on diversity at Krea brought forward a fun anecdote from her first year , “ I am a Gujarati and through the initial days at Krea I wouldn’t prefer rice as it was in stark contrast to my wheat-heavy diet. And then on occasions of Onam and Pongal my friends would enjoy the feast from a banana platter and having never eaten rice with hands myself,  I was introduced by these set of new entrants in my life to try it out (all backed by the science of why eating food by hand is beneficial). I am now a convert and love eating with my hands plus the sambar and chutney are my favorites. This, for me, was an eye-opener into the diversity that the Krea community holds.”

Maitri also set up a Food Bank at Krea during her first year where the surplus untouched food from the mess would go to an orphanage in the neighboring village of Sullurpeta. Maitri wished to do this on a much bigger scale involving the industrial units at Sri City until COVID brought everything to a halt.

Sai Avanthika

MBA Class of 2021, IFMR GSB

A national level tennis player, a classically trained singer and now a management leader in the making, Sai Avanthika looks forward to bringing a change no matter the chosen field.

Avanthika joined the class of MBA in the middle of COVID and the initial interactions were all virtual. “Though it was all online, everything was so thoughtful. Even our orientation ceremony ‘Prarambh’ was packed with industry level speakers, including our current Chief Economic Advisor, Dr Anantha Nageswaran. We had a really warm welcome at IFMR GSB.”

Avanthika is now back on campus and calls it one of the happiest experiences of her academic journey. Ruminating about her journey, Avanthika adds, “ I came in as a fresher, I had no corporate experience but the diverse environment at Krea has helped so much. My batch has peers from 23 states with varied work experience, across the genders and study backgrounds. I was a little nervous when it started but now I have grown into a more confident individual with more clarity and a keen overview of what awaits, what corporate life is going to be, thanks to all the exposure.”

Avanthika believes conversing and ideating with different people, who speak different languages and come with different perspectives because of how they grew up and their own experiences has opened up her mind to a different world.

“In terms of information, the knowledge of people’s struggles, really brings in a balanced mindset. Even in case analysis, this helps, the diverse backgrounds and how different everyone thinks.”

Since returning to campus, Avanthika enjoys going for late night walks through the serene paths traversing the campus with her friends, all of them coming from different regions of India, so distinct to her own self. They listen to music, talk, let out steam and call it a day. And the conversations in itself feel like a cultural exchange, diverse and inclusive.

The sports person in Avanthika appreciates how Krea encourages sports and the good sporting facilities available on campus. She foresees a great scope for expansion, “ I don’t see a lot of girls playing.  If I can bring about a change being a woman, if I could inspire more people to pick a sport and play with them, I would be happy. This is one of the reasons I joined the Sports Committee. I really look forward to bringing about a change in the way people perceive sports to be, they still look at it as a fun activity but it’s a way of life.”

Manvi Teki

Cohort of 2022, SIAS

As a young student, Manvi stepped in with a firm outlook on the ways of life and believes that the journey at Krea has been one of self discovery. “Life is not black n’ white, there is no right or wrong, the experiences at Krea taught me to actually understand, accept and look at things from various perspectives, that there is always more to something than meets the eye.”

Manvi believes the diverse interactions, be it with the professors, students, or support staff has been a powerful means of self-discovery, and has helped her shape her own world view.

Manvi celebrates the diversity and inclusiveness at Krea and reminisces one of the earliest incidents to drive the sentiment home, “I was in a class where we were having a  political debate about the way certain things should be. It was a class of 15 people and everybody had a different outlook to bring to the table based on their own life experiences, this spoke intricately about Krea as a community. This opens up our minds, gets the flap out of our eyes and forces us to look outside.”

Manvi has also been a Student Ambassador at Krea and worked closely with the Outreach and Admissions team. She looks back at her time as a young 17 year old, seeking answers and confused about college choices and feels that being a Student Ambassador was her way of paying forward, enabling students like herself to gain clarity. It also reminded her of the growth and change that she had gone through herself.

One of the projects closest to her heart at Krea was her internship with IBM. “ We applied all the facts we had learnt into the project. We had to create a questionnaire using NLP technique to tap into human consciousness to gauge their learning style and the results were used on various IBM learning platforms. We used what we learnt in Computer Science, a course in Brain and Behaviour and Design Thinking. It was a reflection of my Krea journey itself, of applying things in your real life, truly interwoven.”

Take Two- Diversity Dialogues

Take Two- Diversity Dialogues

A veteran from the area of Strategy and Management, Prof Shobha Das,  Area Chair – Strategic Management, IFMR GSB, got on a Zoom call with an Ethnomusicologist, Prof Sumitra Ranganathan, Senior Assistant Professor of Music, SIAS. What followed was an exchange from worlds intersected, in stark contrast yet drawing the parallels.

Prof Shobha and Prof Sumitra got together for a special exchange of ideas and perspectives on the occasion of International Women’s Day, tracing the similarities and differences in their lives as academics and as women from diverse fields. Paving the way for an interesting dialogue, Prof Shobha Das drew attention to how arts and management are considered to be siloed as two different worlds but yet share deep commonalities. In agreement Prof Sumitra explained how this is innate to the consciousness at Krea, how habits of the creative mind come together in almost all domains.

Drawing on her life as an academic, Prof Shobha spoke about how academia is synonymous with her identity, more so than being a woman. Academia has allowed her to explore, interact with different people and learn about things, about how it affirmed there is no ‘me’ in academics.  While Prof Sumitra pondered on her identity at the intersection of arts and academics, her journey from being a theoretical physicist to the  world of IT and finally to the shift in academics, and how it made the most sense in a space such as Krea University. She expressed how she felt closest to home in academia, where the active churning rarely stops, and spills over.

“The artist in me expresses it in this way, my shift into academics happened following a song, it was a beautiful dhrupad I learnt from the Maharajas of Bettiah, composed by them. And following that song is how I decided I will do my PhD in music and then I made a transition and there I have stayed ever since.”

Prof Sumitra expressed her amazement at women artists from traditional communities who have always had to manage their time and demands made at them as a person. Prof Shobha drew the analogy to the field of management, to what is labeled ‘The Great Resignation’ in the post pandemic era.

“More women have resigned than men because women have realised if now they go back to the workplace, all things they have adapted to will feel astray. The onus is on them to now continue the new role but apparently the men aren’t that affected by the change in role because they probably were able to partition it still and continue to do so. The Great Resignation is greater for the women, post pandemic. We will have even fewer women in the workforce.”

Continuing the thread, Prof Sumitra spoke about the pressure women face as caregivers and how it comes into play when she seeks employment, cloaked as questions and qualms. Prof Shobha pointed out how the top 500 Fortune Companies in the United States had 8 percent women as CEOs and the top 500 companies of NSE had 5 percent as CEOs and the buck didn’t stop there, a study by IIM-A showed that the gender pay gap increased as women climbed the ladder instead of the other way round. This led to contemplation over the takeaways from the pandemic on how to bring women back to the workforce, of the awareness and the solutions.

Prof Shobha stressed on the fact of inability to delve deeper into metrics, incentives and motivation to keep higher education equally excitable for men and women. On how if one lesson from the pandemic is accessibility, the other is a question on digital divide. In Prof Shoba’s words, “A chakravyuh we need to emerge from.”

Retracing a Mnemonic for woman empowerment, something she had coined for an event in the year prior, Prof Shobha expanded STREE- Support The People Who Are Around You, the women and community members. Talk about the people and what hardships they have, stories are never hidden. Raise awareness in every forum you can. Educate yourself and others of opportunities available for women. Empower women, put power back in their hands.

Prof Sumitra added how there is a huge opportunity to bring the quality of a woman that is associated with the aspect of ‘care’ to the classroom. A need to feminise the workplace, to bring in the idea of care to the classroom where everyone cares for the other, making space differences and acknowledging that they come from various backgrounds and do not face the same challenges, to inculcate the ethics of care into enabling students, workers and colleagues.

The short conversation concluded with a pause, refraining from a full stop. With a promise for future collaborations, exchange of novel ideas and building of continuous bridges.

Please click here to view the engaging dialogue.