Asha I.S. was one of the star attractions at the convocation of the University of Agricultural Sciences Bangalore on Sunday, as she bagged nine gold medals in the B.Sc. (Agriculture) course.

Though media persons, including cameramen, were after this exemplary performer, she was not over the moon. What appeared to be weighing more in her mind was how to arrange funds for her higher studies.

She hails from a marginal farming family, which is dependent solely on animal husbandry for livelihood.

“We have just one acre of barren land in Chikmagalur where we have not been able to grow anything. Animal husbandry is our only source of income,” says Ms. Asha who has joined M.Sc. course in the University of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences-Shimoga.

“I am fully dependent on bank loans to take care of my post-graduation studies, including hostel fees. In fact I joined the B.Sc. (Agriculture) course mainly because it was cheaper than all other courses,” she said. “I do not have words to express the sacrifice my parents did towards my education. I do not know whether they were able to eat food on all days. But they never delayed the payment of my hostel fees even if they had to borrow money,” she says. Lepakshi N.M. and Akshata H. too bagged nine gold medals each in the same course.

Ms. Lepakshi wants to join the civil service. “I want to become a Deputy Commissioner and do my best for the empowerment of farmers,” she says, while pointing out that an administrator could do wonders in improving the livelihoods of farmers.

Ms. Akshata too is preparing for the civil service exams. “But agriculture sector and farmers are my passion and I want to help them in whatever way I can,” she says.