“I have come to love the field of healthcare over the years. But I do not want to follow my parents' path and become a doctor myself, I want to stay connected to healthcare via the path of technology,” says Shirish Dhar, recipient of the 2014 TOEFL scholarship.

The engineering student from Mumbai, who is also an aspiring entrepreneur, is keen on moving to the USA to join either of his two dream institutions- UC Berkeley and Stanford.


In a chat with Careers360, Shirish talks about what encouraged him to apply for the TOEFL scholarship, his passion for sports and competition for the TOEFL scholarship.


Excerpts from the interview:

Q: You are one of the recipients of the TOEFL scholarship. What encouraged you to apply for the scholarship? Can you give us a background about your life as well as your qualifications?
A: I am a fourth year Bachelor of Engineering student from Thadomal Shahani Engineering College (Mumbai University). I applied purely due to the honor and prestige associated with this scholarship, with TOEFL and ETS being two of the biggest names in the educational world.

Q: What is your TOEFL score? Can you give us idea of the competition for the TOEFL scholarship? How did you prepare?
A: My TOEFL Score is 119/120. The TOEFL Scholarship application process is a pretty rigorous process. First round of qualification is earned with your academic prowess. Once in the second round, we are required to produce 5-6 essays and a letter of recommendation to be considered. So an all-round profile is required, and scores alone will not make us the winners. Hence, the competition is pretty high.  I had built a very holistic profile over the years and hence was confident of having a good chance at the scholarship.

Q: Was there any specific reason why you chose to study in USA?
A: I have chosen USA as my preferred country, mainly because my masters stream has a lot of business/entrepreneurial components to it, and the opportunities in business in the USA are unparalleled. Plus my dream institutions – UC Berkeley and Stanford -- which are the best for aspiring entrepreneurs, are both in USA. I have already received an admit from Berkeley, and still awaiting Stanford results.

Q: Were there any other universities or countries in your mind while applying?
A: For me, the choice will be between Berkeley and Stanford. Having already got into Berkeley, I am waiting for Stanford and will then decide amongst the two.

Q:  How did you come to know about TOEFL Scholarship?
A: The moment I received a 119 score, I went to the TOEFL website and came across this scholarship.

Q: Did you apply for any other scholarships apart from TOEFL?
A: No because I received additional scholarships from the universities I got into in USA.

Q: What is your chosen area of study? What aspect of the subject interests you?
A: My area of study is Information Systems Management (MIS).  Both my parents are doctors who own their own hospital in Mumbai. So I have come to love the field of healthcare over the years. But I do not want to follow their path, become a doctor myself, and take the easy way. I want to stay connected to healthcare via the path of technology. Which is why I am interested in healthcare analytics, which is a big component of Information Systems Management.

Q: What about studying in a foreign country? How do you plan to explore the country? Also, how do you plan to divide your time between work and study?
A: I will be staying in California, regardless of whether it is Berkeley or Stanford.  California is perhaps one of the most scenic and enjoyable places to be in and I hope to explore the place extensively. I would not be working during my masters. It is a full-time two-year course.

Q: What are your future plans after completing the course?
A: In the short term, I wish to become a healthcare business analyst. My long-term goals are more entrepreneurial. I wish to come back to India and start my own healthcare analytics company here. Healthcare analytics is a big phenomenon in the USA, and I hope to be at the forefront of its advent in our country. This will also allow me to carry forward my parents’ legacy in the medical field.

Q: What are your interests and hobbies?
A: I am a big sports fanatic. I am the captain of my college sports teams, and represent my college football and table tennis teams. This strong association with sport helped me become the sports secretary of my college. Additionally, I love contributing towards the community. Over the past 4 years, I have amassed close to 500 hours of community service across various social organizations in India.

Also read:

TOEFL can still be used for visas in the UK: ETS
“Bradman is the perfect scholarship for cricket lovers”
Be realistic while applying to study abroad: Kanika Marwah, University Options

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