Leadership Journey – Garima Chawla, College of Vocational Studies, University of Delhi


Garima Chawla is a B.Sc. (Hons) Computer Science student of College of Vocational Studies, University of Delhi, who has been continuously involved in beyond the classroom activities.

Here, Garima is sharing her experience being a Chapter President of Connecting Dreams Foundation, a youth lead Social Entrepreneurship & Development Cell. Her hard work has the potential to propel her ahead of the curve.

Go ahead and know what her story has to offer so that you can easily find a path of self-growth. Young Influxers go ahead and upgrade yourself!!!

What was your role? Briefly list the responsibilities associated with it.

Being the leader of Connecting Dreams Foundation, Chapter College of Vocational Studies, my aim was to create an impact, touch lives & bring about a positive change in the lives of people we connect with. As the name suggests, “Connecting-Dreams”, We tried to get to the grass root levels of the problems faced by marginalised communities in their everyday lives and come up with systematic models to help them become self-reliant. The job was to first collect dreams of these people by being on grounds, connecting with them and later get involved in research & development sessions and initiate Projects to benefit the community.

We came up with two Projects:

  1. Project Aashayein is targeted to impact Acid Attack Survivors by helping them learn new skills & utilise these skills to create a fresh new identity for themselves.
  2. Project Phulwari is a Zero Waste Product based Project to help four women earn an extra income for their families alongside being homemakers. This Project uses waste dried flowers & transforms them into a product that has a market value- An Organic Potpourri, which is available in 5 different fragrances.

What’s it like to juggle between leadership roles and academics? Pen down the challenges you faced.

Yes, it is hard. It’s not always smooth sailing. There may be times when all you want to do is give up but as long as your goal is crystal clear in your head, nothing can be a speed breaker in your journey.

As an individual, I always wanted to give back to the community, do something for others, bring a smile to people’s faces and be remembered as an important person of their life stories.

As a student, I always wanted to excel too in whatever I did. I was from a Commerce background & I switched my field and took Computer Science. The initial six months were hard because I had no grip on the subjects but I never gave up, I kept going for I knew what I wanted and I managed to be in the top 5 students of my class.

It is important for an individual to keep a balance in everything that they do. It is important to sit down, visualise and make it clear in your mind, what is it that you are targeting? Have a plan for yourself. Be prepared for the challenges because life will throw tests at you and put you in a situation where you want to choose one thing.

As per my experience, the two key parameters to achieve your goals are:

  1. Patience
  2. Acceptance

Be patient through the hardships and know that you cannot control everything in your life. Have a timeline, set a number of small goals that ultimately lead to your main goal and you will have it all and even if you don’t, remember to be “Patient” and have the courage to “Accept” it because it doesn’t end if you don’t want it to. Keep your spirits high & keep going.

Did you also get a chance to connect with any other activity while working on this post?

I. Represented my College Chapter in Dream Awards organised by CDF India in both 2019 & 2020.

In 2019, we were honoured with “Best Upcoming Team of the Season”

In 2020, we were honoured with-

  1. “Best Dream Team of the Season- 2nd Runner up”
  2. “Best Dream Project of the Season- 1st Runner up- Project Phulwari”
  3. “Campaign for Social Awareness- Project Aashayein”

II. Internship at London School of Economics affiliate Indian School of Business & Finance as an Academic Counsellor, Summer 2019

III. Corporate Relations Member at Inspirix, the Human Resource Development Cell of College, 2017-18

IV. Core Marketing Member at Encrypt, the Tech Society of College, 2017-18

V. Organising Committee Member for various departmental events, 2017-20

What are the top learnings, skills and values that you acquired here?

There are some learnings that books won’t give you. This is why it is important to engage yourselves in activities that give you exposure to look up from your books because life is a lot more than that. Things that you can learn only when you go through them & ultimately grow through them. The experience of other people can tell you what mistakes not to do but a person learns the best when he puts himself into those situations.

Some of my learnings-

  1. Not everyone can like the way you work. Everyone is unique and everyone has a way of working of their own. This does not mean that either of you is incorrect. You need to accept the other person’s thoughts and way of working as well and that’s how you become a good leader.
  2. There will always be people who criticise you and your work. You have to have the courage to face criticism as well.
  3. Never keep your hopes & expectations too high because that is when you get hurt the most. Things will not fall into place the way you want them to always and when you least expect them to, they happen! Yes, magically. Do your part in the best possible way and leave the rest to God. He has decided the best for you. Have faith.
  4. Do not compare yourselves to other people. Everyone has their own timeline and life events will roll according to that.
  5. Hard work never goes futile. Sometimes it may seem like you worked for nothing but always remember that there is learning in everything that we do. We may not see it instantly but gradually we do.
  6. The people who try to bring you down are the ones who can’t be where you are. Don’t ever give in to that.
  7. In order to make others happy, don’t forget to stop and make yourself happy. Success means nothing when you are not happy and at peace in your mind.
  8. There may be times when you don’t see any path. You find it hard to decide where to go from here. Just know you are not alone. It happens with all of us. Follow your heart.

Do you feel your current role fills you with pride and gratitude? Illustrate how the experience gained will help you going forward.

Yes, I do. Even if you are able to impact one life from the work that you do, there is definitely pride in that. I always wanted to be a change-maker in the life of Acid Attack Survivors, even if I could contribute a little to their growth, it would mean the world to me. This is why I decided to start Project Aashayein. The bond & connection that I have developed with these women is for a lifetime and when I see them see hope in me, I know I have done justice to my time and the work I did. It gives me immense happiness to be able to extend my help or just talk to them at times.

When you look at the actual miseries of people, it gives you the strength to fight your battles as well.

The social entrepreneurship skills & creativity I gained through this journey of more than two years will definitely help me in my career ahead.

As when we talk about leadership we have a whole team with us. How do you persuade others to accept your ideas/ways?

Being a leader entails you leading a group of people.

We want to set a good example for our team right? Why would someone follow our ways? Why would they accept our ideas?

Here’s how-

  1. You do something so inspiring that they look up to you and aspire to be like you.
  2. You value their opinions too. You can never be a good leader if you always try to impose your ideas on others. You have to help other people grow through you. You have to give wings to them. Accepting & including their ideas, makes them respect you and your ideas eventually.

What is your message to students, aspiring to the same or a similar role to do?

Don’t wait for the time to be right. Now is your time, go for every opportunity that scares you. If it scares you, then it is definitely worth going for. If it comes easy, it won’t be good enough. Things change before we realise, listen to your heart and do what you have always wanted to do.

If you love yourself and are confident about yourself, people will see you the same way too. Don’t let anyone see your fears. Fight them and keep your best foot forward. All the best. Know that you can do it and you will.

Whisper to yourself- “I CAN & I WILL”

How can we (Friends, Family, YI Fraternity) encourage young students such as yourself to engage with co-curricular or extra-curricular activities?

What the Young Influx Fraternity is doing, publishing leadership stories is in itself an enriching platform to motivate young minds to create stories of their own too. When they read our stories, they would get motivated to inspire others through their change-making stories as well.

Friends, Families & Teachers are the guiding light of young minds. It is important for them to throw light on the importance of exploring the horizons beyond the world of books.

You can learn the definition of “Leadership”, “Management”, “Social Entrepreneurship” etc. from your Business Studies books but to be able to master the art of it, you need to be one! Take that road, aim to impact, aim to inspire, aim to be a HERO!

Keep a balance between your academics, your leadership roles and your personal life as well. Everything has its own importance and if you decide and be determined about it, you will learn a lot that books for sure can’t.

Anything else would you like to say to the YI learners who’ll be reading your experience?

If any of the above said inspires any reader, I’d feel accomplished.

We at Young Influx would take this opportunity to thank Garima for taking a leap of faith and sharing her impeccable story. We are humbled and grateful, your efforts mean a lot for the youth seeking growth and development.

And hello, dear readers, we welcome you to explore the platform with an open mind. Help yourself gain the most out of the experiences and opportunities listed here.

And before you bid us adieu, we would like you to know that you can read more such student stories here.

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