Outer space is the limit for unassuming Lalitha R Avali, the state topper in aeronautical engineering course in Karnataka.
The daughter of vegetable vendors, the 22-year-old emerged first state-wide with a score of 9.7 percentile. However, Lalitha had to fight against the odds to achieve this feat. She now dreams of becoming a science scientist with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) or join the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) after post-graduation .
The native of Hiriyur at Chitradurga in Karnataka had earlier secured 707 score in the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE).
During her engineering studies, Lalitha's day often began early at 4am. With her books, she would head to the Nehru Market where her parents sell vegetables. She would study even while helping them.
Once the morning sales are done, she would rush to the East West College of Engineering at Yelahanka in Bengaluru. This had been her daily routine for four years during her engineering course.
But her hard work and dedication bore fruit as Lalitha stood first in the course. She is grateful to her parents for letting her chase her dreams despite her poor background.
Her parents Rajendra and Chitra are proud of her achievements. Lalitha is the first graduate in the entire family.
Though the parents struggled to make both ends meet, they never compromised on the studies of three children, Lalitha being the eldest. The couple themselves could not complete their studies due to financial difficulties and have been selling vegetables for the last 40 years.
Lalitha is grateful to her college authorities too. After noticing her talent, they had made some leeway for her and even waived off the hostel fee.
Lalitha wants to complete post-graduation in aerospace engineering from prestigious institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) or the Indian Institute of Science (IISC).
ISRO chief K Sivan is her role model.