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13-Year-Old India Child Prodigy Is Your New Role Model

Illustration for article titled 13-Year-Old India Child Prodigy Is Your New Role Model

13-year-old Sushma Verma's father sold his land in north India so Sushma could afford to go to school. Not just any school — she finished high school at 7 and earned her undergraduate degree at age 13. What's next? Her master's in microbiology, obviously.


Sushma told the AP her parents "allowed me to do what I wanted to do" and said she "hoped that other parents don't impose their choices on their children." (Her choice would've been to go straight to medical school, but she can't take qualifying tests until she's 18, which is why she's getting a master's in the meantime.)

Her family made her education their primary goal:

In another family, Sushma might not have been able to follow him into higher education. Millions of Indian children are still not enrolled in grade school, and many of them are girls whose parents choose to hold them back in favor of advancing their sons. Some from conservative village cultures are expected only to get married, for which their families will go into debt to pay exorbitant dowry payments, even though they are illegal.

For Sushma, her father sold his only pieces of land — 10,000 square feet (930 square meters) in a village in Uttar Pradesh — for the cut-rate price of 25,000 rupees (about $400) to cover some of her school fees.

"There was opposition from my family and friends, but I did not have any option," said her father, Tej Bahadur Verma.


Her father also drives her to school every day on his bicycle.


Image via AP.

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It might just be because I just got off the phone with my dad, who told us often as children that failing to value the contributions of women is one of our society's greatest failings, but this story totally made me tear up. You go, Mr. Verma. Help Sushma along the road to glory and then take pride in the places she takes herself.