NEW YORK – The Foundation For Excellence (FFE) hosted their 3rd annual fundraising gala on Sunday, June 10 at the Taj Pierre Hotel in New York City, which was attended by about 400 people.
The foundation’s mission is to give scholarships to talented students in India, who cannot afford an education.
The money from these scholarships allows them to become professionals in the engineering and medical fields.
“FFE’s mission since 1994 has been to enable and elevate underprivileged students in India to help them be the professionals that they have dreamt of becoming all their life. We support them through their journey as long as they have admission in an engineering or medical college with no way to pay for it,” said FFE President, Minoo Gupta, speaking at the meet.
Last year, FFE distributed $3.2 million to about 5,000 students from all over India and since its inception; it has distributed a total of $19.8 million to many scholars.
The gala featured a fashion show by designer Vaishali Shadangule and a fine demonstration by sand artist Nitish Bharti.
Dr. Sudhir K. Jain of IIT Gandhinagar spoke too at the gala.
“My introduction to FFE was about eight years ago when they hosted an event in Ahmedabad which I was invited to and as the students were telling their stories, I had tears in my eyes. I told myself ‘what are we doing here; we have such talented and bright people in our country. Those students who said that their father was a barber and their mother was a maid are ones who are going into medical school or engineering school,’” Jain said.
Jain said he decided to hold a summer camp at IIT Gandhinagar where FFE scholars could not only learn how to communicate with various people but also gain inspiration and the proper training that is needed to become a professional.
Jain told the audience that he felt highly accomplished for establishing IIT Gandhinagar.
“Many academics get an opportunity to accomplish great academic work but very few get an opportunity to create an institution from scratch, like I did. This institution has three key elements; one is students first. We must exist for the students and add values in their lives and we must do it in the current socio-economic conditions. When I was in school, our parents were to teach us certain values and today with smaller families, both parents working and sometimes broken families, the students do not receive these values anymore,” Jain continued.
Jain added that in 2011, IIT Gandhinagar began a five-week foundation program where the students would not go to class and instead participate in workshops that would teach them how to be creative in life.
The next thing was to get the students to understand the diversity and challenges of India, for which another program was implemented four years ago by the institution where a group of about two to four students would travel throughout India for 42 days on an extremely low budget with no air travel allowed and stay at least in one state in the north, one state in the south and one state in the northeast.
Jain also said that he made sure IIT Gandhinagar was a research university and hoped that its students one day would either become entrepreneurs or professors at some of the greatest universities in the U.S.
The evening ended with the stories of four FFE scholars; Sathish Chittibabu, Ranjith Kagathi, Bismay Mishra and Asha Hegde.