“Gurur Brahma, Gurur Vishnuh, Gurur Devo Mahesvarah,

Guru Saakshaat Parabrahma Tasmai Sri Gurave Namah”,

The phrase above embodies the idealogy that the guru is representative of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva: those who create, sustain knowledge, and destroy the weeds of ignorance. I salute those gurus. I am not imposing Hinduism upon others in any sense, but rather demonstrating how this mantra explains the role of the teacher in every single person’s life. We all have some teachers in our life who were our influences–allowed us to be where we are and do whatever we have achieved. Then there are other teachers who passed some harsh comments and that, in turn, helped us improve. At times, criticism is the best motivation. Even starting from high school, we all have our favorite teachers. The teachers who influenced my sister and I to pursue science was, first, Mr. Rajnikant Jha, our science teacher at school, Mr. CB Devan,Mr. Umesh Sharma and Alaka Sahu, who made sure that we were on the right track during our education. I cannot forget the guidance of Mr. KP Timalsena, who did not leave a single stone unturned to make sure that I came to the USA to pursue higher education. Again, my journey as an undergraduate student was smooth because of the hard work of Dr.  Walt Lilly and Dr. Margaret Hill. One teacher that taught me in my undergrad—and who I am blessed to have in my life—is Ms. Jean Miller. She is the teacher who motivated me to do my PhD, along with the help from Ms. Shvetha Gohn and Ms. Suzanne Omran. I have learnt so much from each one of them and am honored that they shared their time with me in order to enrich my knowledge.

My guru at grad school who influenced me to be an improved neuroscientist was Dr. Jairus M. Reddy, who always challenged me to do better by directing critical questions my way. He always motivated me to perform better than what he himself did in grad school. This kind of encouragement is extremely rare to find in this competitive world.  The other two ladies who guided me during my graduate studies were Dr. Shazia Ahmed and Dr. Dayna L. Averitt, who helped me on both a personal and professional front. Without their support and guidance, my graduate studies would not have been possible. I also like to thank Dr. DiAnna L. Hynds.  After my doctoral degree, I wanted to give my honest shot to be in academia and I got into an incredibly supportive lab. My advisor, Dr. Michael P. Jankowski, made sure that all his trainees received and utilized all opportunities to be a critical researcher in the field. Be it learning cutting-edge techniques in the field of neuroscience or attending conferences, he provided fair opportunity to everyone in the lab and took pride in the success of his students. I have also learnt much from Dr. Luis Fernando, Queme Cobar, Adam, ReNita, and Megan in my training, all of whom were instrumental in my path to succeed inacademia. Apart from academia, I have these wonderful mentors who channelized the leadership role in my volunteer commitment like Mrs. Aprajita Jha (ANTA), Ira Pramanick (GetMagic), and Dr. Pam Weber (Pam and Associates).

As students, when we are demeaned, it hurts; but when we are applauded, it encourages us to perform better. If we do not pause to self-reflect when we are ridiculed, it takes much to appreciate those who helped us in our journey. As per the statistics, the job of the teacher is one of the least paid professions. But teachers continue working, despite the unfairness of their income—they do it because they want to work for the betterment of their pupils. All they deserve is respect and appreciation, but they never expect that either. It is our duty to make sure that we appreciate how our teachers have gone above and beyond to help us in all possible ways.

All my teachers have contributed to where I stand today as a student and as a human. Teachers are pillars of support, champions of education and the backbones of wisdom. They all went above and beyond to help me at any point in time I needed them. My greatest possible achievement in life would be to make them all proud. As I learnt from my parents since childhood to earn and give respect, I try to live in my adult life by the same principle. So, when I leave my mortal body, it is not the wealth or belongings I have accumulated that will mater, but my legacy. My contributions to the community will matter; me touching another human being’s life in the way my teachers did mine will matter. This will only be achieved through the guidance of all the gurus I have in life. Guru Purnima signifies the sophisticated and phenomenal relationship between student and teacher—a relationship that is essential for the continued development of the human race.  Therefore, I accept this honor, feeling privileged and blessed in wishing all my gurus a very happy guru Purnima. Sadar-Namaan (heartfelt gratitude).

Happy Guru Purnima Shravan 9th 2078 BS (Happy Teacher’s Day July 24th 2021)

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