a few Indian friends and I got to wear a gown, tassel and
cap and attend the graduation ceremony at the University of
Colorado along with a thousand young men and women. The ceremony
was the usual mix of extravagance and glitz Americans love
to celebrate every occasion in style. As in many universities
across the US, there were a handful of Indians graduating
this year. However, what really stood out was the fact that
the dozen or so Indians receiving the diplomas were not full-time
students here to do their MS or MBA but working professionals
and wives of working professionals.
of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS) saw more than a dozen
Indians graduating this spring. This is striking because UCCS
is not a campus that is popular among Indians coming directly
to enroll in courses like MS etc. Colorado Springs is a nondescript
hi-tech town with the majority of Indians here there are over
500 Indians working for either Worldcomm, Intel, LSI Logic,
Oracle, Compaq or one of the other half-dozen hi-tech companies.
Universities across the US are seeing an increasing number
of Indians, especially those not on F1 (student) visas graduating.
There was a time when the only way one could hope to get a
coveted American degree was to go to IIT, sit through GMAT/GRE,
and get a high enough score with the hope that some university
would be generous enough to grant a scholarship or teaching
assistantship. If that didn’t work, one had to scrape the
bottom of the barrel and get hold of the family pot of savings,
buy an air ticket and fly down to the US for the all-American
educational experience. One also had to stand in line at the
US embassy or consulate with the hopes that the F1 (student)
visa would be approved by the stern immigration official behind
the counter. This has been eloquently portrayed in a number
of novels including Anurag Mathur’s `Inscrutable Americans’,
and still remains as one of the most popular routes for those
wishing to pursue an academic career.
realise that bagging a job in the US, and getting the company
to sponsor one’s H1, air ticket and life in the US is a good
way to come to the US. On landing here, after the usual grind
of getting familiarised with new projects, way of living and
dealing with things, many realise that it is a good excuse
if one ever needed an excuse to get some good education under
one’s belt. Many techies are increasingly going to school.
(Here, in America, universities, or colleges are called ‘schools’).
A number of American employers are also willing to pitch in
at least a part of the tuition fees this is akin to having
a cake and eating it too. Incidentally, my employer paid all
the tuition fees towards my MBA courses. All I had to do was
to hit the books or head to the class after a day’s work.
Of course, there was a catch, I had to get an ‘A’ grade in
a course in order to get my tuition fees reimbursed.
in the US, especially those on H1 visas are increasingly realising
that a few years of attending evening/weekend classes, instead
of hanging out at the mall or bowling alley is time well spent.
Of course life can become a bit hectic with the deadlines
of projects and exams rolling one after the other.
of H1 visa holders are getting married to young, ambitious
and educated women and are bringing them along to the US.
Before the young women reading this column get up in arms,
I must point out that over 95 per cent of Indians coming to
the US on H1 are male. I must also add that I know a female
colleague of mine who sponsored a H4 (dependant) visa for
her spouse. The young wives are unable to find jobs that will
sponsor their H1 work visas, a topic I covered a few weeks
them don’t want to stay at home and so opt to do some courses
at nearby universities and schools. Those with a technical
background tend to work their way towards an MS degree, and
many others prefer to do courses in non-technical subjects.
Attending classes at the university also gives them an opportunity
to get used to communicating with Americans, an invaluable
skill to acquire.
especially those from a middle class background tend to lay
a lot of emphasis on education, a habit that not only helps
us survive in changing times but one that induces us to seek
knowledge anywhere we can. As per the latest census (2000)
estimates, there are over 1.7 million people of Indian origin
living in the US. As a community, we tend to stress on the
importance of education and make use of every opportunity
to broaden our horizons. We tend to believe that any higher
education is only going to add value to one’s life and career.
For those Indians sitting on the fence, undecided whether
to pursue a long-term career in the US or to spend a few years
here, seek a financial target and go back to India, a degree
from an American university is definitely going to open more
in line to receive my diploma, more than being proud of my
little achievement, I was thrilled to be partaking the all-American
experience along with my fellow Indians, who, like myself,
had come to find new career opportunities in the US and in
the process had worked their way towards a degree.