Anushka Panda, a 15-year-old girl, from Suncity School, Gurgaon had a bigger mountain to scale than most others who appeared for the CBSE Class 10 exams in 2018.
A genetic disorder could not deter her from passing the Class 10 CBSE Board exam with flying colors.
Anushka topped the board exam in the differently-abled category, with a score of 97.8%. She scored 99 in Mathematics and Hindi, 98 in Science and Social Science and 95 in English.
Anushka loves listening to music to beat stress.
She is also a trained classical singer, learning classical music for the last 10 years. A fan of singers Mohd Rafi and Kishore Kumar, she also loves reading and painting.
Anushka aspires to become a software engineer.
When asked whether she would also like to take up a career in singing, she said, “I want to get into academics. My love for music is something I would like to keep it to myself,” she added.
Anushka was born with a genetic disorder known as Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), is wheelchair-bound. The disorder takes away the person’s ability to walk, eat, or even breathe without assistance.
She could not study for long hours and had to lie down after studying for an hour but she remained determined. She has to wear a spinal brace which makes it difficult for her to sit for long hours,” her father, Anup Panda, said.
Anushka admits that disorder does make studying challenging for her, but she has learned to adjust to it. “The disorder has always been there and it will always remain. But I have to study anyway and do all the other things as well. I thought I can’t let this get in my way.”
Suncity School Gurgaon provided her a special bench in class. Despite all this, Anushka never wanted to be treated as special or differently-abled, her father said.
“She never wanted to use the extra time that was provided to her to finish the exam. She would always finish her exam in two-and-a-half hours.
She said that she was “literally thrilled” when she got to know that she was a topper.
“I felt so happy after seeing the results but after I learned I was a topper, I was literally thrilled. I have been preparing for my board exams from day one and would devote at least half-an-hour every day to each of the subjects,” she said.
Anushka did not want to be recognized as a special category child.
She says that any disability or challenge cannot stop one from achieving what they want to if they follow their heart. She further says, “My message to any person, who faces any challenge in his/her life, is to follow the heart because when a person does that, no challenge or roadblock can stop him/ her. One should never think about obstacles.”
She also provided a tip for students who might aspire to follow in her. “I never wanted to be a topper. I just wanted to do well. Being toppers should never be the agenda,” sums up Anushka.