But being a TA solely didn’t quite justify the whole reason for me to give some serious thought into academia. When I reflect back, I feel there’s another part of my university career which until recently I have not thought much of: My interaction with my peers. Toward the end of my schooling career, I was told by my junior peers that they regarded me as an intelligent and hardworking guy.
I acknowledged that commendation and I feel there is some justification in those recognition words. I loved interacting with peers who shared the same passion for the subjects and topics that I did in class. I still remember meeting one guy in my stats class who was I feel much more smarter than me and yet he was humble enough to work with me on solving difficult statistics assignments. We would often email each other whenever we could not solve the periodical assignments we were given. I still have those emails.
I also loved teaching and explaining concepts to my peers. As an economics major, I enjoyed explaining theories and concepts to my fellow peers during the mid semester exam periods. Until very recently, I had never realized that I loved teaching and explaining things to people. I had never imagined that I actually enjoyed the spirit of intellectual communion and fellowship.
One of the things I did as a final year TA for my students was actually posting up a ‘how to do well in this course!’ guide. It was a relatively simple guide but again, my love for scholarship and teaching was defined and molded in with the amalgamation of all those activities and university highlights I mentioned above. A journey of self discovery if you may, coupled with peer and external influence, and a deep sense of appreciation and love for scholarship is what lead me today.
As I re-read the recommendation letters my professors eloquently wrote for me, my heart resonates with joy, hope and determination. Two years ago my mom insisted that I make a scan of these letters and bring it to India to show my grandma. That glow in her face, as she read aloud the letters my professors had written to endorse me, I can never forget. The smile that she beamed when I told her that I want to become a professor one day has never left my memory.
It was an autumn day when I had the privilege to walk back with my professor to his car. It was my final semester in uni. I was already scouting the job market at home. He casually asked me what my plans were. He already knew by then of my desire to be a professor.
‘I think I want to take a break from studies and go and see the real world’.
‘Good…it will do you some good, it will give you the exposure…’ my professor replied.
‘But make sure you come back, don’t stay too long… it’ll be harder for you to return back to academia’.
I never forgot those last words… till today they still haunt my thoughts. They haunt because sometimes it’s difficult to just leave it all for the sake of scholarship.
But having said all that I said in these entries…. The only thing I can say now is: I’LL BE BACK!