Son of parents who worked as daily labourers shelling coconuts in farms at Kallipatti near Pollachi, 17-year old P. Arjunan’s only focus was on studies. That has paid off, and today Arjunan is all set to attend the Tamil Nadu Engineering Admission (TNEA) vocational counselling on July 1 with an overall rank of 16 and community rank 1 under Scheduled Castes (Arundhadhiar).
The weekly family income of Rs. 500 or Rs. 1,000 never came in the way of the boy as he continued to be among the top three in every class in school. He passed SSLC from Government Higher Secondary School, Negama, with 436 out of 500.
He enrolled himself for higher secondary in the SRNV Higher Secondary School, Lakshminaicken palayam at Karadivavi near Palladam, where he had to pay a very meagre amount as fee. The school was nearly 25 km from his house. Hence, he stayed at a Government hostel nearby and completed his school education.
He cleared the general machinist course in the vocational stream with 1,135 out of 1,200 and stood second in his school.
With an aggregate mark of 198.17, he realised his engineering dream would come true.
When his call letter to attend TNEA vocational counselling arrived, Arjunan knew that he can have the pick of course and college with his rank.
“I want to study mechanical engineering in the department of Anna University or at Government College of Technology, Coimbatore. My aim is to teach after completing post-graduation and doctoral studies. My dream is to become a Vice-Chancellor of a university,” says this first generation learner.
Even though he is sure of getting an engineering seat, Arjunan is not spending his holidays doing nothing. He has enrolled himself in two classes that will enable him be on a par with English-medium classmates in college. He travels 10 km to Pollachi everyday in the afternoon to attend a C++ class to equip himself for mechanical engineering programme, and a spoken English class for improving his language skills.
A. Abul Kalam Azad, a lawyer in Pollachi, who teaches him spoken English, says Arjunan is very focussed and does not mind going that extra mile to achieve what he wants.
“He has overcome poverty to come this far.
He travels long distances from his village to attend classes so that he does not lag behind in college.”
As he is preparing himself to leave for Chennai on Sunday to attend the counselling, Arjunan is confident of tackling the engineering syllabus like he did his school curriculum.
He is a self-learner and never gone for tuitions.
He is not so confident about handling the financial burden that he foresees for the next four years.
The first generation graduate concession of the State Government will not be enough for him to sustain throughout his education.