The Founding Class of the Vedica Scholars Programme for Women graduated on 23 December 2016.
Our first Convocation Ceremony was held at the Sanskriti Kendra in Anandagram, New Delhi. For those who couldn’t be there, the Programme Team relives the memorable event:
The Sanksriti Kendra premises stood under an early winter sun, ready to host a landmark occasion. The placards at the gate displayed the Vedica emblem. Trees were wreathed in our maroons, beiges and oranges. The amphitheatre was filling up with students, benefactors and friends. An arc of staid-looking chairs lined the dais.
At 3 pm, the ceremonial procession began. It was led by the Founding Dean, Anuradha Das Mathur and the Guest of Honour, Nandita Das. Members of the Governing Council and Vedica faculty followed. Robed in the Vedica colours, the 36 Scholars took their symbolic steps. Here was a proud cohort of exceptional women, being steered by pioneers—a metaphor of the Vedica journey to empowerment! After the introductions, Anuradha Das Mathur rose to offer the Dean’s address.
Address by the Founding Dean
Anuradha took us back 18 months ago, to the modest beginnings of an idea. It had come out of a fortuitous chat on empowering women. Watered by daring and courage, the idea had rapidly grown into an audacious venture—Vedica. It was to be ‘a programme that would help young women be their better selves and be committed to financial independence’. She shared the big questions that are constantly asked about us:
Why a women’s only institution? Why didn’t we bank on “academic cut-offs”? Why four tracks? Why visiting faculty? Why residential and 18 months? Why would senior women agree to mentor our Scholars? Why would employers recruit from a new and unknown programme? What distinguishes a Vedica Scholar from others?
The Dean drew out the lineaments and philosophy of the programme in answer to each question. These features have made us an early success. She also celebrated the world’s response to the Vedica story, one of confidence and goodwill:
Industry is recognising the ethos of our curriculum: Developing professionals that the industry needs, beyond functional competence; to be self-aware, reflective, and cognisant of the interconnectedness business has to society, and the world at large. With much gratitude, we have reason to feel proud, and validated. We recognise today, more than ever before, that goodwill is perhaps the world’s richest currency.
The address ended with a profound blessing to the first batch of Scholars, who will always remain special: ‘Be strong, like water; be authentic, like the sun.’
The Graduation Ceremony
Soon, the core movement of the ceremony took off. Each Scholar received her graduation certificate and spoke on a personal aspect of the Vedica experience. Their poise, eloquence and self-assurance were very rewarding for us who have walked beside them. Over 18 months of transformation, every Scholar had left behind her own idiom of growth.
Address by the Guest of Honour
Nandita Das was overwhelmed by the Scholars’ stories. Picking up from the Dean’s address on courage, Ms Das shared how she viewed courage in her own life. She saw Vedica as an authentic space for women to bond in courage, as both humans and dreamers. It is an arena for each Scholar to align her personal and professional journeys together, a space ‘to find out what you love doing’.
Ms Das spoke about being a woman among the cross-section of identities that are constantly thrust on us. As a talented, strong and successful model of modern womanhood, Ms Das urged the Scholars to ‘go deeper to finding your conviction of yourself. Then each one of you will become a role model’. She wished the Scholars the persistence to ‘break the glass ceiling’ and continue to dream fearlessly. Ms Das’ presence and speech were catalytic for the spirit of the Convocation. The Vedica team is very thankful to her for her incomparable support.
The Awards Ceremony
The Vedica Scholars Programme for Women recognises qualities which set apart our Scholars from their peers. For the Founding Class of 2016, five awards were instituted and given to the following Scholars:
The Vote of Thanks
Dr Pramath Raj Sinha, Founder and Chairman of the Academic Council at Vedica, acknowledged the Governing Council, faculty, mentors, benefactors, recruiters, and the team, who have all edified the programme. He saw the Scholars as ‘not just the founding class but also the founders of this programme’.
Pramath spoke of the difficulty many women face in getting back to their careers. He wished all working women ‘the resilience to fight the world every time it prevents you from reaching your fullest potential; from achieving your significance’. With a beautiful prayer, he anointed the graduating women:
Thank you, Lord…
For the reaching of this end
And for this new beginning
For the joy in finished aims and goals
And the evidence of winning
Have mercy on these graduates
As they bask in their successes
Please guide them to their destinies
And show them love that blesses
We ask You O Lord, to lead each one
Through missteps they may suffer
On the road to gaining wisdom
Finding faith and hope that buffers
Please touch each heart with joy and peace
As Commencement gives promotion
And fill each life with love’s increase
Of strength and deep devotion
For this eager class of graduates
Wanting to succeed
Please bless them at this starting gate
With all the KEYS they’ll need.
Thank you, Lord. Amen.
The ceremony ended with the National Anthem. The class glided out onto the verdant lawns to a recessional hymn. Dusk was coming in, and the Scholars floated diyas to welcome a new evening. The Vedica team will continue to nurture each incoming class of women walking the Vedica way to empowerment. This ceremony was a fitting valediction to the first of many.