Their doctor dreams dashed by NEET, a group of TN students turn mentors for aspirants

When the govt school students met each other in engineering college, they realised they had all missed out on NEET by a few marks, or lack of money.
Their doctor dreams dashed by NEET, a group of TN students turn mentors for aspirants
Their doctor dreams dashed by NEET, a group of TN students turn mentors for aspirants

In 2017, Sowparnika’s world in Tamil Nadu’s Erode district was occupied in the pursuit of the one dream she had carried since she was in Class 2: to become a doctor. As a 17-year-old medical aspirant, she was studying diligently to make the cut-off marks to be considered for medical education. But her dreams were dealt a fatal blow when the Union government implemented the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET). Today, the 19-year-old engineering student along with a group of friends who were in a similar situation, have decided to help out current medical aspirants with the help of community radio. 

With the help of the community radio in college, the students prepare notes and role-plays as students and teachers, in order to explain concepts across subjects such as physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics to government school students preparing for NEET – just like them. 

As a Tamil medium student studying in a state board school, Sowparnika’s stellar academic performance in Class 10 and Class 12 meant nothing in view of the newly-introduced academic setup. She was forced to hunt for coaching classes after she was not given a seat in her first attempt. “I had no idea about NEET, what they will ask, or where the questions will come from. I went to many popular coaching centres for the second attempt but they said no admission for Tamil medium.”

“I felt really bad and finally found a coaching centre that accepts Tamil medium students like me. Finally, I scored 396 marks and I got a self-financing seat – but the fee was too high,” Sowparnika recounts. 

Forced to opt for engineering, Sowparnika entered PSG College of Technology in Coimbatore to study Electronics and Communication Engineering (ECE). And there, she met Archana, Aries, Divya, Dinesh Kanna, Harini Gayathri, Mohammed Masthan, Megalingam, Veerakarthik, Prasanna, Dharun, Sujith Kumar and Jayasurya, who had faced the same issues as her, and had to give up their dream of pursuing medicine. 

After a meeting with Professor Sivaraj who motivated the students, Sowparnika and her friends decided that they will help other students in government schools. Speaking to TNM, Professor Sivaraj says, “They didn’t get the opportunity to follow their dreams but they feel others should not suffer the same fate. We support their efforts. With the efforts of these students, even if we get 10 doctors, it is a great achievement for them. Economic factors should not hold students back from achieving their dreams.”

“I kept asking myself why I was not able to clear NEET despite being a student who scored good marks in Class 10 and Class 12. It was hard to pick up because I was studying in both Tamil and English simultaneously,” Sowparnika says. 

The students take the help of their tutors and radio coordinators to produce their community radio shows. They also hope to go to government schools on weekends to train students. “No one should struggle like me. With my experience, I can guide them. In the beginning, I was lagging behind in preparation. But afterwards, I got up to speed so that I can help the students who are struggling in the beginning itself in terms of how to prepare, what the syllabus is, tips and tricks. At least, I can lift my collar and say that I have created so many doctors even though I am not a doctor,” says Dinesh Kanna, one of the students who is producing the show, with a smile.

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