Meet India's youngest PhD student. She's 15.
At 7 years old, an age when most of us were just beginning to learn our multiplication tables, Sushma Verma was graduating from high school. At 13, while we were dipping our toes into high school life, she was getting her Master’s Degree in Microbiology from Lucknow University. And now, at 15, Verma has just been accepted to Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University (BBAU) for her PhD — making her the youngest PhD student in India.
In case we need to clarify, Verma is a prodigy and a total badass. (Apparently, it runs in the family Her older brother, Shailendra, became the youngest computer science graduate in India at the age of 14 in 2007.) According to One India, she passed her University Research Entrance Test this week, scoring seventh overall; as if passing the exam itself wasn’t already impressive enough. After she graduates, she hopes to become a doctor — but so far, the journey hasn’t been easy. Many of her academic goals are prohibited right now due to her age.
“My young age has been a major constraint in pursuing higher education,” Verma said in an interview with The Times of India. “Getting permission to attend high school and seeking a seat for the medicals posed big problems.”
“A person should always be judged by his or her talent and potential, not by age,” she continued. “I desperately wanted to become a doctor but now I have to wait till I turn 17 — it’s a huge disappointment for me.”
It’s obvious that Verma has amazing things in her future — and she’s had to overcome plenty of barriers to get to where she is today. Verma has spoken extensively in the past about the fact that she comes from a family with “tough financial constraints,” and, as a result, will receive “hostel accommodation and scholarship facility” for the duration of her studies. While she hasn’t yet confirmed her concentration, in an interview with India Times, she expressed interest in pursuing a PhD in agricultural microbiology.
“I’m interested in this field,” she told India Times. “I was especially drawn to it when we had to do fieldwork in the fourth semester, or when we would have to do lab work such as isolate Rhizobium bacteria in roots of leguminous plants.”
Science was never my strong suit, so I have no idea what Rhizobium bacteria is — but I’m pretty sure a 15-year-old isolating it in the roots of leguminous plants is very impressive. We can’t wait to see all the other amazing things Verma achieves in the future.
(Image via ThemeDots.)