Three years ago, Sreedhanya Suresh decided to resign from her job and head to Thiruvananthapuram to prepare for the Civil Service exam. But many people tried to discourage her. "It is not an easy exam. You will have to compete with very capable candidates. Why don’t you have a rethink?" they asked Sreedhanya.
However, the determined young woman knew that the Civil Service exam would not be a bigger hurdle than all the difficulties she had faced in life till then.
She did not need any special consideration based on her background and secured Rank 410 in her third attempt by sheer talent and merit.
Malayalam medium in school
Sreedhanya completed her schooling from St Mary's UPS, Thariyode and Nirmala HSS. Though she studied in Malayalam medium, Sreedhanya did not find it difficult to gain command over English. "My teachers were really helpful," she says.
She scored 85% marks in Class 10 and joined Govt. HSS, Thariyode for higher secondary in Science group. Up to Class 12, Sreedhanya walked to school. It was a distance of 8 km to school and back. "Moreover, we had no electricity at home till I was in Class 12," she informs.
Enlightening degree studies
Aiming to learn more about the world as well as career opportunities, Sreedhanya joined the Devagiri St Joseph's College in Kozhikode for her BSc Zoology course. She stayed at a private hostel with the help of government grants and a scholarship from the district panchayat. Another advantage Sreedhanya had at Devagiri was the opportunity to use the college library and computer lab.
Sreedhanya passed the BSc course with 75% marks and went to Calicut University to pursue an MSc in Applied Zoology.
"Incidentally, I used an old feature mobile phone all those years. It was during the Civil Service exam coaching that I came in possession of a laptop, which I received as a gift," she says.
Sreedhanya gained command over English by reading magazines in that language and watching YouTube videos. "I listened to discussions on TV channels and learnt English pronunciation. YouTube videos on English language were immensely helpful," she informs.
After completing her MSc course, Sreedhanya took up the position of a management trainee with the Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe Development Department and worked there for two years. Meanwhile, she also found a place on the Public Service Commission’s rank list for women police personnel.
Love for Malayalam
For her Civil Service exam training, Sreedhanya initially joined a government coaching centre for SC/ST students. Later, she attended classes at a private centre. "I chose Malayalam as my optional as I love the language as well as its literature," says the young woman.
On her preparation and performance, Sreedhanya says, "I set apart 6 hours each day for studies. During the interview, I was asked about Wayanad and the floods, among other topics."