Shreya Hegde is an incoming freshman at Amherst College, Massachusetts, USA. She is a physicist, aspiring entrepreneur, mentor, and advocate for STEM amongst the disadvantaged. Even before starting her undergraduate degree, she has done original research in gravitational waves, paleobiology, and computer graphics, all fully self-funded through scholarships.
Shreya comes from a family, school and community where no one had applied to study abroad. She couldn’t afford external help, so she used pro-bono services, YouTube, and LinkedIn for her applications, occasionally using money she won in local spelling bees and Olympiads. Bucking stereotypes and social pressures, Shreya led her school’s table tennis and basketball teams as captain of both teams to great successes at the state level.
Always looking for opportunities to expand her knowledge, Shreya attended the Ross Mathematics Program, an intensive, highly selective six-week summer experience for motivated high school students to explore undergraduate-level mathematics, and was junior counsellor on the programme in her second year. At the MIT Innovation Leadership Bootcamp and The Knowledge Society, she learned about entrepreneurship. She also attended the MIT Summer Geometry Institute, Pioneer Program, and UCSC Science Internship Program.
Passionate about educating children from rural areas in India, she recently co-founded Beru, which aims to help students in developing countries access affordable education focused on human development through smartphones. This includes teaching children through augmented reality lessons and helping them learn about mindsets. Beru uses data to personalise learning and feedback, making learning engaging using games, quizzes, and projects. It also connects children with a community of other students and teachers from different parts of the world. In addition, Shreya volunteers as a teacher at eVidyaloka, a well-known educational Indian NGO, where she teaches English every week to students in villages and mentors them on passion projects.
She had previously started The Dialogue Forum (TDF), an interactive career-talk webinar series connecting professionals with students. Guest speakers have included a herpetologist, a Nat Geo adventurer, a cybersecurity specialist, and an automotive designer. She has also helped analyse thousands of survey responses at the National Law School of India University and volunteered at her school’s Daan Utsav giving festival, where she helped with the donation drive.