Asha for Education chapter at UT-Austin holds first fundraising gala

Sana Hameed

The UT chapter of Asha for Education, a nonprofit that supports the education of underprivileged children in India, held its first fundraising gala Saturday.

Finance junior Caroline Cantrell began the gala with a presentation about the work the national chapter of Asha for Education has done. Cantrell said she was drawn to Asha because of the organization’s transparency.

“They spend no overhead,” Cantrell said.  “It is hard because we don’t get a lot of funding. There isn’t a lot of money to go around for us to start stuff. Once we start making (money), 96% goes to the kids and so that is what is awesome about it.”

Cantrell said the UT chapter raised more than $800 in ticket sales and donations. The purpose of the gala was to raise funds for the organization and to gain traction, Cantrell said. 

Meaghan Co, recipient of the Miss Deer Park title and a textiles and apparel junior, emceed the event. Co said she fell in love with the organization after attending one of the meetings. 

“Our population here is so diverse and tonight we get a little taste of that,” Co said. 

The gala featured a wide range of all-female performances. The acts included Nritya Sangam, an Indian classical dance team, which performed a dramatic retelling of Cinderella. They also included AbsolUTe Pitch, a new acapella group on campus.

Larae Lundberg, the president of Absolute Pitch, said she thought the lyrics of the song they performed, “Kaleidoscope Heart” by Sara Bareilles, reflected the diversity of the performances at the event. 

“I really feel like (the song) shows how people are like a kaleidoscope, like a mosaic of a lot of different things,” nursing sophomore  Lundberg said. “It shows that (we) can have a lot of different backgrounds, but still come together and make beautiful music or make a change in the world.”

Electrical engineering sophomore Rave Rajan attended the gala to support a friend performing with noncompetitive dance team UT Zobha. Rajan said the show inspired her to get involved with the cause. 

“I definitely related to the cause — putting more girls through education — simply because if you look at (the UT) electrical engineering department, we tend to have the lowest percentage of girls,” Rajan said. “The fact that there are kids at UT who are pushing for (educating underprivileged children in India), it’s motivational.”