Delhi University shaped me into a Statistician. – Dr. Sahana Prasad

In our journey of life, many people, places, and things shape our life.  We never realize their importance till someone points it out to us. I never like to identify much with Delhi, where I spent 9 years of my life, but I am always happy that I studied at the reputed Delhi University and Ramjas college. those years shaped me as I was studying. A wrong choice of school and friends led to my lower grades in 12th and sadly I missed topping my school in the boards by just 1 mark. The sadness and regret I felt that day is still raw. The very thought that my name could have been on the school roll of honor but wasn’t made me extremely upset.

 I missed engineering seat and to be honest, it did not bother me much. I had no specific plans in life and was happy to drift along. But I knew I had to get into North campus, though colleges like St. Stephens and Hindu were out of reach. I did not want to go to any “Girls” college like Miranda House too. I was also very adamant about not going to any South Campus colleges.

I got into Mathematics Honors in Ramjas College. My English teacher from school was very much surprised. She had thought I would get into a literature course like English Honors. But I loved math too. It was and still is according to Wikipedia, the best college for math, amongst all colleges in North campus. I remember being shocked to see policemen outside college gates but would soon realize that in DU, this was a common sight. The first year of college was fun, though it was no way similar to the current scenario. Boys and girls did not talk to each other, there was no attendance problems and we had excellent teachers. Many of our teachers have written textbooks used by students all over India. Of course, we did not have any idea about their greatness. The subject was tough too. Unlike the “solving problems” with formulae, this was a total ballgame. There were theory and proofs, not to talk about the subsidiary subjects, which all of us happily ignored. It was pointed out to us that if we didn’t clear those subsidiary papers like physics and chemistry, we would get a “Pass” degree and not “Honors” degree. That made us a bit serious. The college groomed me and from a shy girl, who was sheltered in school, I graduated to a confident young lady. The fact that I got prize in Fresher’s and farewell party added to my confidence. It was not based on looks, as one might think, but on talent. I remember singing “phoolon Ki rang se” in one party and another song, which I do not recollect, in the other.

Yes, some embarrassing situations, like, when one classmate took my notebook and thought that all the Hindi shayari, which I used to scribble in my notebook, was for him, or when I sent in a box of Idli/ chutney to one of my friends in hostel and people were wondering what it was and such. I do not remember much of college life, as my memory is not all that good, but I do remember that my love for mathematics grew in those three years. I understood too, that hard work is the key to success and practice and more practice is what makes one good at subjects, especially math. The number of books in English fiction section of college library, made me proficient in the language and develop a skill in writing.

After graduation, the next step was Post graduation in Delhi University and I was again affiliated to Ramjas College, through classes were held at the campus. Again, history repeated itself as I missed a seat in MCA by a whisker. I was not too keen to get into MSc Math and was wondering what to do. One of my friends asked me to apply for Statistics as she was doing the same. Ironically, she dropped out after the first semester, but I completed and made it my career and passion. I do remember that I was not too keen to continue and thought of dropping out till my first semester exams were over. Credit goes to my father, who asked me to keep going to college even if I did not feel like taking up the exam. Guess he was worried that I would just sit at home and waste my time. The two years of my life at PG level were my golden moments. Be it eating chowmein at the store run by a Tibetan lady, roaming over the beautiful campus during Delhi winter or sitting in the last bench and having fun, each and every minute shaped my life. I developed a keen interest in Statistics and its techniques. Another interesting fact was that I used to be always late for the 8.30am class which was Operations Research. I would often lie to my mother that I did not have first hour and sleep in late. However, I completed my PhD in the same subject!!

I remember going to Delhi School of Economics to do a project using FORTRAN, relishing the chai there and enjoying the winter scene in the campus. The entire campus, including Ramjas college would be awash with bright colors, especially during winter.

I feel that if I had the same drive as I have now,  that many  years back, I would be elsewhere in life. But yes, God has been kind and has made me reach a position and I owe a lot of it to Delhi University and Ramjas college. I am happy and proud to say that I am an alumnus of this prestigious university. I do wish I could remember more of that 5 year period of my life.