Despite scoring 1,073 marks in the higher secondary exams, Hariharasudhan did not go for higher studies.

He took up a job in a hotel to take care of his sisters. His dream was to be an engineer but the sudden demise of his parents had left the family burden on his young shoulders.

Today, four years later, Hariharasudhan has successfully completed his engineering course from SRM Engineering College.

Similar is the story of Ashok, who has completed production engineering from MIT, Chromepet. Hailing from a hamlet in Villupuram, he did not feel any confident amid his city-bred, English-speaking peers.

Through proper mentoring and exposure by way of workshops in communication skills, teamwork, goal setting and leadership, he is confidence personified now.

Agaram Foundation has helped such deserving students to step beyond poverty and emerge successful. “Between 2010 and 2013, we selected 699 students. Of them, 442 are pursuing engineering and 32 students are into medicine,” said actor Suriya, founder of Agaram Foundation.

The first batch of students who have completed higher studies shared their life’s travails and pleasant experiences at an interaction in the city on Sunday. Apart from sharing their joy, several students promised to be part of the Foundation’s volunteer force.

Attended by heads of various educational institutions across the State, the meet was an indication that quality higher education could be made available to rural students and those from less-fortunate backgrounds through such initiatives.

M.A.M. Maluk Mohamed, principal, M.A.M. College of Engineering, said his college was happy to be associated with the Foundation and promised quality engineering education to many more deserving students.

Explaining the rigorous selection procedure through which the candidates are shortlisted, Mr. Suriya said the Foundation was a bridge between deserving students and institutions. “No recommendations from anyone, including my family members, will be entertained,” he said.

More In: Chennai | Society