The International Award of Merit recognizes an individual whose achievements have strengthened Illinois Institute of Technology's reputation on an international scale.
B.S. Political Science (’06), Psychology (’06), Illinois Institute of Technology
The word “kranti” means “revolutionary.” Chaurasiya first conceived of her nonprofit, Kranti, while studying global women’s movements with one of her favorite professors, Margaret Power, as an Illinois Tech undergraduate. Following graduation, her experience of being expelled from the U.S. Air Force for her sexual orientation drove her further toward her dream. In 2012 in Mumbai, India, Chaurasiya established Kranti, an organization that serves women who are victims of human trafficking and daughters of sex workers. Kranti has transformed the lives of vulnerable women by providing them with housing, mental health counseling, education, and the opportunity to volunteer in their communities.
In 2016, just four years after Kranti’s founding, Stephen Hawking named Chaurasiya one of 10 finalists for the Varkey Foundation’s $1 million Global Teacher Prize, widely considered the Nobel Prize for teaching. Chaurasiya and the women of Kranti have been profiled by the BBC, Wall Street Journal, CNN, Newsweek, Hindustan Times, and Al Jazeera.
At only 31 years old, Chaurasiya has already helped the women of Kranti accomplish great things. Shweta Katti, who grew up in a Mumbai brothel, won the United Nations Youth Courage Award along with a full scholarship to Bard College. She plans to counsel sex workers and has been named one of “25 Women Under Age 25 to Watch” by Newsweek. Danish Shaikh has written a series of plays and dances telling the stories of sex workers and human trafficking victims that Kranti women perform around the world. Amrin Shaikh came to Kranti deaf and mute, but she can now read at a third-grade level and is thinking about career opportunities. And those are just a few of Kranti’s success stories.
Illinois Tech psychology professor emerita Margaret Hellie Huyck, whom Chaurasiya cites as another of her favorite professors, wrote: “She was a distinctive undergraduate student, crafting her own educational program based on her ardent desire to learn as much about the world as possible… She volunteered with Barack Obama early in his career and worked for a local social service agency… The heart of her work is saving lives, in the fullest sense.”
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