Dear Friend,

From a young age, society drew lines around me—barriers based on class and gender that I was not allowed to cross. Like many in my community, my family struggled to meet their basic needs to survive. My parents worked in a brick factory as laborers, earning very little to support a family. I was shabbily clothed, and envied other girls dressed beautifully in silk frocks. Unlike them, many nights I went to bed hungry.

One day, while playing, I accidentally kicked a ball onto the other side of a street that was forbidden to us. As my father attempted to retrieve it, he was assaulted for daring to cross the divide. It was a harsh lesson about the limitations of my world.

Fortunately, Shanti Bhavan took me in and brought me up with love and care. With its sturdy brick dorms and vibrant colors, the school welcomed me with open arms. Here, I had a bed, warm meals, and toys. I found lifelong friends, mentors who recognized my potential, and teachers who encouraged me through every challenge. Every milestone, from graduating high school to acing the SATs, was a step over the constraints placed on me.

After fifteen years of your support, I have accepted a full scholarship to Duke University!

My admission to Duke is a powerful reminder that we can reach any height given resources and opportunities. To our incredible community of supporters, thank you for believing in me and my classmates. Because of you, I am ready to cross the barriers that held my family back for generations. When I set foot on Duke University’s campus for the first time, it won’t be just my victory – it will be yours, too!

Most Gratefully,

Shanti Bhavan, Class of 2023
Duke University, Class of 2028