Yesterday, I took a drive down memory lane, both literally and figuratively, as I went down Hosur Road (safely masked in my own vehicle!) to my alma mater, iiit-b. I have been a part of iiit-b as a student since 2004, when as a tender freshly-graduated B.E. I entered the campus for the first time. Little did I know, what an impact this wonderful organization would have on my life.
The campus one would visit today (in safer times of course) is very different from that which I entered in 2004. The structure has grown, burgeoning into new buildings. Gone is the window-canteen, where we would drop in for a cuppa noodles at midnight; and the small patch of lawn behind the erstwhile women’s hostel, where we would play badminton in the evenings.
However, in all these years one pillar has remained constant – Professor Sadagopan, our esteemed and beloved director.
There is no lack of articles on the internet that embody his achievements. What I could tell you about his accomplishments, you would already know! I could write about his long list of awards, but you would have looked those up! I instead choose to write about the teacher, who has influenced many, many students.
I remember the talk he had with our M.Tech batch on the day that we joined in 2004, near the erstwhile pond. This was my first interaction with him. For those of you wondering which pond I am speaking of – seventeen years ago, when our campus was brand-new, there used to be a pond to the left side as soon as we entered, inhabited by ducks, with rabbits hopping around on the lawn. As we unloaded our belongings into our new hostel rooms, we were summoned to the pond for the director’s address. I can still feel in my heart the warmth of the director’s welcome on that day. As he spoke to us of new beginnings on that warm summer day, it was the first spark that lit our journey of learning at iiit-b.
The most life-changing impact the Director had on my life was at my Ph. D. graduation. I had recently moved to the US, awaiting my Ph. D. defense. When my time to defend arrived, I could not fly out to India, due to medical reasons – my little A was due to arrive a mere few weeks later! I shall be eternally grateful to Professor Sadagopan, and my two mentors Prof Chandrashekar and Prof NJ Rao, for having enabled me to defend online via Skype. Professor’s innovation and support in allowing me to do so came at a time when online defenses were not common, in fact I was the first from iiit-b to do so. Further, as I could not attend my convocation, he arranged to have my father personally collect my degree from the chief guest, in a true partnership of kindness and innovation. Professor, I am so proud to be a graduate of iiit-b, twice over.
I could write about so many more ways he has influenced our lives, such the time he visited my home on the occasion of Navarathri Golu. To have my Guru visit home on Saraswati Pooja is a blessing I will cherish forever. During the first week of my M. Tech., when he requested all of the new students to write an essay on their expectations of their time at iiit-b – and yes, he read them all! Today, personalized learning is a buzzword, one which every educational institution strives to achieve through any means. But Professor Sadagopan has always known each and every one of his students for their individuality, no small feat across so many decades! For as long as I have been a part of iiit-b, his doors have always been open to all his students to drop in for a quick word or a long conversation. Yes, I could write on and on about all that he has done for us!
Dear Professor, we cannot thank you so much for all you have done for our institute. You have guided me, and so many others and built our institute from the ground up. Your kindness and support are always remembered with gratitude. Our namaskaarams to you and Madam.