Breaking glass ceiling with elan

ethiraj college.JPG

A college steeped in glorious annals of history
N. Arun Kumar | DC
Chennai: It was a time when women were hardly encouraged to go in for higher education, but that did not  stop eminent lawyer V.L. Ethiraj from starting the Ethiraj College for Women in the city way back in 1948.
Today the college stands proud, looking back on its 65 years of splendid achievement and commitment to the mission of empowering young women through education. Started with a few hundred students it now has over 7,000 of them in 29 undergraduate courses, 16 postgraduate programmes and over 10 M.Phil and seven Ph.D streams.
Opening its doors to diverse learners from different social, economic, religious and cultural backgrounds and the differently abled  as well it has succeeded in merging of the wider community in all activities. Not surprisingly, its long list of  alumni range from top politicians to bank employees.
To their advantage, the students have the liberty to pursue their regular programmes with an add-on course, that helps increase their employability.
“At least 75 per cent of our students get placed in top IT companies like TCS, Cognizant, Wipro, Scope International and several others, drawing a pay of Rs 40,000 a month. We encourage students in the second and third semesters to go out into the real world and learn trade techniques with hands on experience,”  says college principal Dr Jothi Kumaravel.

The college has overhead projectors in all classrooms to make students understand the concept visually. —DC
In keeping with its founder’s philosophy that no one should be denied an education owing to a poor economic background, the college provides scholarships to over 2,000 students. “Our well wishers, teachers and members of the parent teachers association have instituted several endowments for the needy and poor,” adds Dr Kumaravel.
Sportstars mining laurels
S. Sujatha | DCChennai: Ethiraj College for Women had a pride of place among city colleges in sports not long ago. They may not be as dominant as they had been in recent times, but the college has used the CM's trophy sports event to prove its mettle. 
The college had won the maximum number of overall trophies at AL Mudaliar Athletics Meet in the 1980s and 90s, and has seen stiff competition in recent years. "We have been finishing second for the last few years. The new rule, where one athlete can take part in only two events, instead of previous four, has dampened our prospects," said Uma Devi of the college.
Squash champion and Arjuna Awardee Dipika Pallikal preferred to join this college. "The English department has very good faculty in Ethiraj college and so, I joined this college," said Dipika, who graduated with BA (Eng) this year with 68.5 per cent marks.
Online voting system for council elections
Srikkanth Dhasarathy | DC
Chennai: When most college elections still have the traditional ballot paper system, Ethiraj College has moved forward with an online voting system to elect its Student Council.
The election is a weeklong process, which involves campaigning, and ‘Open House’ sessions with members of the previous union after students nominate themselves for the seven posts. “The Open House is a tough process where previous council members question contestants. Imagine girls dressed up as ‘Egyptian Mummies’ or quirky characters from Tamil movies and campaigning throughout the college asking for votes.

Student Union president, Aishwarya.B (left) and Joint vice president Apoorva Ramani seen interacting with an International student.   —DC
Luckily, this year we were spared from that,” said Apoorva Ramani, joint vice-president, Student Council. “I have seen people coming out crying after an Open House session, but it’s all done in good spirit,” said Lakshmi Menon, vice president.
The council is responsible for organizing various events throughout the year and they ensure that  students’ issues are  put forth to the management. Aishwarya.B,   president,  Student Council, said,” Our very first task after taking over is to organise a farewell for the previous union and seniors followed by ‘Aarambh – a cultural event for  freshers and ‘Maithri’, an inter-departmental event.” The council is also in charge of the seven clubs in the college. 
Ethiraj’s big push for women leaders
S. Sujatha | DC
Chennai: Ethiraj College has been a takeoff point for many illustrious women in the country. Be it MP Jayanthi Natarajan, dancer Anita Ratnam or carnatic singer Sudha Ragunathan the college has produced numerous successful women, who went on to reach greater heights in their career.
“The college gave me the confidence and courage to face any challenge. I was allowed to participate in all inter-collegiate events. The competition that we faced from MMC and Pachaiyappas helped us grow,” said Sudha Ragunathan, who has the rare honour of winning the ‘outstanding student of the year’ award for three continuous years in the college.
Sudha, who graduated with a BA Economics degree, was a darling of all teachers, as she was proficient in all activities during college days. “I was the treasurer of the student union during my second year and then became the vice president in my final year,” the then Nightingale of the College noted.
“I was of the rebellious 70s and Ethiraj was the perfect college to be, as our professors nurtured us to channelise our energies to activism and look beyond,” recalled advocate Geeta Ramaseshan. She added that she owes it to her professors for encouraging her to think critically.
“I cherish my years spent in the college,” she further added.
Other famous alumni of the college include politician Jayanthi Natarajan, bureaucrats Jayashree Mura­lidh­aran, Karkala Usha, K. S. Kanchanamala, D. Sabitha and Jaya Gowri, advocate Vijayalakshmi Rajagopal, dancer Anita Ratnam, film star Trisha Krishnan and academician Latha Rajinikanth.

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