Ankita Bhalla

, Jagriti

Ankita is a sophomore at Washington University in St. Louis majoring in Finance, International & Area Studies with a minor in French. A social entrepreneur, and a nature enthusiast who loves trekking and scuba diving, Ankita enjoys any opportunity to explore diversity. These academic interests and aspirations reflect her upbringing; growing up in 9 cities over 19 years has culminated her love for adventure, and an appreciation for cross cultural learning. Being amidst new ideas and challenges, drives her mind to seek synergies and connect the dots in the world around her through shared experiences.

It is with this perspective that Ankita launched Jagriti, an environment education program, in the predominantly rural union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, India. After researching the territory over months, she designed an activity-based curriculum to revive an environment degraded by industrialization, but integral to rural livelihoods. Ankita first worked with 20 schools to test a Carbon-Handprint Point System and conducted weekly activities on traditional techniques, like Johads (soak pits for irrigation). Encouraged by the overwhelming response, she partnered with the Department of Education to expand the project to all 72 villages of the territory. She then lobbied 56 companies to support students and teachers for fieldtrips and events under their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies. By coordinating the CSR funds with non-profits, Jagriti organized the region’s first Eco-Fair, attended by more than 30,000 persons and provided scholarships to teachers to pursue certifications in Environment Education from the Indian Center for Environment Education. Seeing over 18,000 students and teachers striving towards carbon neutrality in a territory that has seen tremendous restoration in just three years, Ankita is constantly reaffirmed of the value of sustainability in accelerating development, and driven to continue spreading its impact.