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'I didn't let my marks affect my life'
Dean D'Souza
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June 18, 2007

As a kid, I was always on the move. It was difficult for me to sit in one place and concentrate on one thing for long. There was so much to do in lovely Goa [Images].

But, because I had a persistent mom and I was fairly intelligent, I managed to score 82% in my SSC exam. I was over the moon; I had never scored so much in all my years in school.

I joined a very prestigious, but studious, college. In a way, my dad -- who was an alumni -- made the decision for me. I would have preferred to join another, 'cooler' college where most of my childhood friends were going.

I was facing tremendous pressure from my family -- they wanted me to do well in my Class XII exams so that I could do my computer engineering from a 'top' engineering college.

In college, I felt rather lonely. I did make a couple of friends, but they were the kind of people who found their happiness at the cost of another person's loss.

I was also carried away by my success in the SSC exams; I thought I would ace the HSC exams. But I hadn't worked hard enough. I only managed a measly 56 per cent overall, with just 48 per cent in Physics-Chemistry-Mathematics. I scored better in English, German and Geography.

Though I had disgraced my family, I did manage to get admission for my BSc course at a good university.

I also joined the National Cadet Corps and made a mark as a cadet. I even passed the National Defence Academy entrance exam but, unfortunately, failed the medical test. This left me depressed. I could not concentrate on my studies and dropped out of my BSc course.

I was 20 years old and did not see a future ahead of me. I had no education, no aim, while my friends were in the second year of their engineering course.

After a while, I set my heart on going to UK to study. I had scored 7.5 in the IELTS exam. Yet, I saw no reason for my family to support me. I had not shown much dedication towards academics and did not come from a rich family that could afford such an education.

But I had reckoned without my family's support. My father mortgaged his insurance policies and got a loan of Rs 5-6 lakhs. On my 21st birthday, I left for the UK to study management and computers.

I took to the UK like a fish to water. My English was very good. Once I was there, I taught myself to think in English only. Most of my friends were English or European and they helped open my eyes to the world.

I worked hard in a pub and paid my tuition fee for the second year myself. I had changed from a naive, chubby boy from a small city in India to a smart, fit, confident person.

Today, five years down the line, I am with a lovely woman, I have a steady job and I earn more than my engineering friends who slog 14 hours a day. I have an offer to study masters in management or HR from Oxford.

I know I am lucky to have supportive parents. I am grateful to my dad for taking that loan. It got me moving and motivated me to work hard. In the UK, I had a difficult time dealing with being broke and with subtle racism, but all this taught me to be a stronger person.

I didn't let my bad HSC grades affect my life. After struggling initially, I became a computer database manager.

Everyone has a chance. The important thing is not be trapped in our middle class mentality. We have to set our own path, work hard, play harder. We shouldn't be a product of our society, but make society a product of us.

*Name changed on request


'I was 18... and a failure'
'Low marks don't mean you have failed'

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