It all winds back to a random October afternoon in 2012. Meena and I were driving around in Chennai finishing up some printing errands when we have this discussion on students, schools and graduate programs. We were trying to figure out tier A, B and C schools for a student whom her dad was counselling and midst that discussion, I happen to mention I should apply to schools just for the heck of it. The moment freezes and she gives me the typical ‘Meena-look’ and says – ‘Let’s do it!’.
We drive back home and speak to her Mom and Dad to pick their brains. Both are thrilled – to say the least. I’ve always wanted to complete a Master’s but for a long time wasn’t really sure which specialization to major in. We deliberate on how Actuarial Science is such a wonderful fit for me and why now is a good time. For the last few months we’ve been in a flux with Meena’s grad school admit, the immigrant visa situation and a slew of other things. This would only add further complications or rather – “Happy Problems” as the Bhaskars put it (and something I’ve come to really appreciate now).
That very day, we sit down to look-up universities and admission deadlines and even before I knew I’d applied to five schools – all in a span of 2-3 days. Days roll by and late February 2013 as I sit staring at coconut trees in my maternal grand-mothers house in Trivandrum the admit from Columbia creeps in. As I call and inform Meena and her parents of the admit offer, they’re electrified! I knew Columbia was a good school, really liked their electives but honestly didn’t really know that this was a great deal. I’d received an offer from another good university a few days back but chose to go ahead with Columbia for its obvious network benefits and city-location.
Summer 2013, I eventually start the program and from then on – it’s been a great mix of experiences and surprises. Getting back into student-shoes after six long years has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Mottled with assignments, classes, internships, examinations, deadlines, projects, presentations and seminars – The last year and a half has been a great fire-up! Having the opportunity to meet some incredible people and take classes with some really great professors by itself was a huge learning.
All that said, to me personally If my $100,000 education was any worth it, it was because of a statement that one of the professors’ I really look up to kept mentioning –
“If there’s one thing I’d like you all to take from my class it’s this – It takes years and years to earn reputation of integrity, but just a second to lose it.“
This sounds cliché – but just to hear it from somebody who you consider a role model, mention it every semester class; totally drives home the point. And for that I’m truly thankful to everybody – family and friends who’ve been instrumental in getting me here to where I am now.
With the Masters’ taken care of, the next short-term career goal is to earn my fellowship credentials in the next few years. It’s a steep up-curve but I’m thoroughly enjoying the ride and am more than thrilled to have chosen this path. Exciting times ahead!