Sunday, August 21, 2011

Life after Death


Earlier, I have posted my memoirs with couple of the instructors that I came across during my education. I don’t know if they will be in memory for long time. But the man I am going to write about will live forever in my memories. I wanted to share an experience with my readers about this wonderful Professor who passed away recently.
Many Indian students go toa USA with lot of expectations about the education system there. Even I belong to the same clan. My first encounters with the course professors seemed quite interesting. I was having my share of doubts, but was excited to dive into the system. I was also warned by few senior students that the course work I chose was very tough and lot of students eventually change their stream not being able to gain good scores. As warned, the toughness and tediousness in the courses unfolded slowly.
One course seemed bit simple but the professor who taught had a very different approach to the lectures. All his lectures seemed random and most of the time he picked the market developments from the new papers and handed out to the pupil. The randomness eventually decreased my interest to attend his lectures. So if ever I had to dedicate some extra time at my part time job, I would spare his class time for that. When it came to the assignments and projects, our desi pupil shamelessly plagiarised taking advantage of the loopholes in the course. This was not noticed by him for long time. Initially, I hated that system but eventually got trapped into it in some occasions. This trap reduced the burden, n obviously you take things easy and that’s what I did until I came to know that I scored a bad grade than others in my team who also did the same. As I wasn’t able to digest the fact, I rushed to see the professor to ask for an evaluation. I was so unfortunate because he just then knew about the plagiarism and completely avoided confrontations with any students. I miffed my bad luck and decided not to go for his courses for the next semester.
However, if destiny decided that I should end up with a good relation with this man, I can’t escape. So, I had to opt for his course in a summer semester which actually developed quite positive relation with him. At that point of time, I was literally in a bizarre about my skills and the course I choose. But this professor helped me gain good confidence and encouraged me spotting my best assets. In the following semesters, he encouraged me to present technical papers and gave me a platform to prove my mettle. Had he not done that, I would have ended up graduating with no feathers in my cap or would have changed my stream(with great regret) as many others did. To be honest, I was so adamant from the beginning about changing the stream just because there is pressure be it in my education or work.
Well, getting back...this professor boosted me with positive energy till I graduated. Couple of incidents that I can never forget were when he delivered the lecture having so much pain after a nose injury, literally he stood there with bunch of tissues wiping the blood off and continuing his lecture. This might seem weird but he did not consider that it was any hindrance. The other was when he personally called on my mobile to inform that there were minor errors in my paper which might object him to give a best grade. Given the reputation he had, he can grade it off either with a positive one as nobody comes to him for an explanation or with a next best one showing me the errors as a reason. But he made an effort to grab my number from the admin and called to let me know to correct them so that he can give a best grade. When asked for a reason he said, when you made me proud and reached my expectations as the engineering society conference, I shouldn’t let you down.
I was so honoured to see him at my graduation ceremony and being blessed by him.  It gave me immense happiness when I came to know that no other students from his own department graduated, yet he came to greet me. It didn’t stop there; he extended his support even during my job interviews. Not to forget his random lectures, and the news paper hand outs came to great use during my work. Even today I am the in the same line of work that he often taught in his classes and pupil thought he was obsessed with this topic. He was way ahead of times as now I see a lot of future in that topic “Sustainability”.
He was in constant touch responding to all my emails until recently. I will be always grateful and thankful to him. This is just my experience, and there are many other students especially desis who had similar and better experiences associated with this wonderful man. You will always live through the knowledge that you shared and the path that you have shown us Dr.Koehn.



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