It was the 8th of July, 2013.
At, 10 am on that Monday or rather that Moanday morning, I greeted the new batch morosely, with a polite “Hi Guys!”
Now Mondays are never really great fun. And then at early 10 O’ Clock on a Monday morning, if one was to be punctually needed at work, you would agree with me if I say that it was better to commit hara-kiri!
But life is what happens to you when everyone else is enjoying their coffee! Amen!
They greeted me back with great smiles and a vociferous “Hi”. Cool Batch, I thought and couldn’t help but smile back.
We then started with the introductions.
I sometimes ask my trainees to introduce themselves along-with their names and their studies, a little bit about their work, and a bit about their respective hobbies and zodiacs. The zodiac part invariably later, becomes the butt of jokes. It ends up being that fun and controversial part of the introduction with its group of believers and with its group of nay-Sayers and then of course it goes on to that point of it becoming a tussle between the two groups. But it certainly becomes an interesting topic of discussion with everyone joining in. It gets reaffirmed to me especially when the girls with their squeals of laughter and the boys with their loud guffaws, have a good time particularly when someone points out some funny incidents relating to certain zodiacs.
And then the people born on the cusps add on that amazing zing factor altogether to the discussions!
I choose to believe in the dictum that a part of the zodiac thing may be actually correct. I have been corroborating the personality traits and characteristics of certain people with their respective zodiac signs and there certainly seems to be a pattern to it all. But we will keep that discussion for another day.
When his turn came, Ankit was almost monosyllabic. He just chose to say a few words. He said “My name is Ankit Verma. I am a student of Geology and I am interested in pursuing higher studies and research. “ On further prodding by me he said “My birthday falls on the 2nd of February and I am passionate about Science. My hobbies are Astronomy and Geology.”
Wow! I thought. I have always had this fascination to understand this particular zodiac sign and an Aquarian is that much more mysterious and that much more amazingly cool as a person that someone can ever choose to hang out with!
He certainly looked like an intelligent student to me and if someone finds Astronomy and Geology as his hobbies it can only mean that this guy has to be a science buff, and that was so much to my liking.
That fact drew me instantly towards him.
I have also been fascinated with science. At some point in my schooldays I had dreams of buying a telescope and looking at the stars and planets at night. And now, I actually had someone who had been doing all of this right from his school days and to whom I could ask all of my questions and have them all answered right back to me and with exact precision!
Wow! Ankit was fascinating indeed!
As the batch progressed further and I got to meet Ankit more often, I discovered what an illuminating mind he has and what a brilliant student he actually is! His batch- mates, who had become his die-hard fans by now, were always bursting forth with anecdotes about his love, zeal and enthusiasm for science, and more so often, for astronomy, in particular. I started looking forward with an enviable enthusiasm and eagerness to the classes on Monday mornings.
If your desire is strong enough, it doesn’t matter what your beliefs are. If you have a desire that is strong enough, that desire will be the dominant vibration, and it will over-ride any other vibration that you have. ~ Abraham Hicks
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the United States of America was established in 1958 and since that time has been involved with the Apollo moon landing missions, with the Skylab space station, and later on with the Space Shuttle Programs. Currently, NASA supports the International Space Station and oversees the development of the LSP or the Launch Services Program. The LSP provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches.
I found that Ankit has had this one big incinerating desire right since his early school days of getting to work with the NASA. He has always been greatly riveted to all things related to, not just the Earth and the Universe, but, to all things related to Astronomy and, as well as to all things related to, the NASA. This is what eventually lead him to become an Astronomer at PlanetFour and PlanetHunters.
This also lead him to a summer research fellowship in June, 2012 at the National Geophysical Research Institute, where he had that memorable field trip to the Lonar crater. It became a life changing experience for him. That day when he stood at the rim of the Lonar crater, he says he felt like he was on another planet altogether and he felt he could now go on wherever he ever wanted to and he could now do whatever he ever wanted to. From that day onwards he became more determined in life. It was the foundation of his fascinating journey and here his interest shifted from Astronomy to Planetary Geology.
If you were to ask him how he would like to spend his days and nights, he would reply that he would just love to spend all his time exploring bodies throughout the Solar System just like the NASA does! Co-incidentally Ankit has also been engrossed in researching about advanced robotic missions and the Big Bang, which have always been the area of research and discovery by NASA. And as NASA science is focused on better understanding of the Earth and the Universe, Ankit has always desired and coveted to be working here, right at NASA, right at the forefront of science and research.
But Life had some bad news, awaiting Ankit.
On the 5th of April, 2014 this is the reply that he received on his application to NASA for an internship program.
Thank you for applying to the program. We had an overwhelming response to our program this year with over 800 applications. Unfortunately, we were only able to find internships for a small number of the many highly qualified applicants.
Nonetheless, we were very impressed by your credentials and accomplishments, and would be happy to entertain an application from you for our program next year.
Administrative Assistant to the Director
Universities Space Research Association
3600 Bay Area Boulevard
Houston, TX 7**58-**13
Ankit’s world came crashing down! He was completely desolate and crestfallen.
Now Ankit is one guy, who can never ever harm anyone. He is like that sweet presence who can only make someone feel glad that one knows him.
Thus we all felt immensely melancholic at this sorrowful development which had happened in his life.
“Keep the faith. I will always be proud of you.” I wrote back to him on his Facebook wall and tried to cheer him up when he shared the news to all of us about his rejection by NASA.
A lot of his friends also joined in with their wonderful words of encouragement and hope.
Shalendu Saurav wrote “M proud of U Ankit!”
Akhilesh Yadav “Efforts….are more important part of life…..”
Raghvendra Mishra “LAGE RAHO BETA… SELECT TO EK HI JAGAH HONA HI… BAKI EITHER THEY WILL REJECT OR YOU HAVE TO REJECT….”
Babbu Sandhu”Keep up the spirit.. Ull definitely end up in some other galaxy”
चंद्रशेखर सिंह wrote
In Nature Sun never spreads its intensive brightness suddenly but it takes some moment to delivers its best so just go ahead without any hesitation.
Better or may be the Best Future is waiting for you. Almighty bless you…”
Surbhi Sharma”Don’t worry ….. Something better is waiting for u”
Himanshu Mahalka”Sir ji…widour failure der is no success….”
Gautam Singh”Verma ji, i m sure u will get something better”
Himanshu Dwivedi”don’t worry next opportunity is awaiting you ”
Brijendra Pratap Singh”Keep trying mah friend…”
Santanu Misra”Verma ji no worries, behind evry cloud deres a silvr linin… u r goin 2 b successful 1 day , hav fullll faith on u..”
Ankit is also a guy with a steely determination. You can make that in his eyes. The way he looks at life. The way he looks at someone. Ankit considers his father, his ideal and inspiration in life. Whenever he feels low, he thinks of him and and remembers how hard his father has worked throughout his life, sacrificing everything for Ankit in the hope that he will see him as a better person in the future.
Like a true champion, Ankit remembered all of this and made a strong resolve to carry on his life with the same dedication and devotion and with an exemplary desire towards science. He wanted to continue with unflinching love, devotion and dedication to his research.
He put his mind to several tasks at hand and carried on a plethora of projects working as Volunteer Astronomer for Cosmoquest, Planet Four, Planet Hunters, Disk Detective, and he also enrolled for a distance learning course on THE SCIENCE OF the SOLAR SYSTEM from the prestigious California University of Technology (Caltech).
He has an uncanny clairvoyance too.
He aptly had said at that time “If life closes one door, then it certainly will open other doors for me”.
He carried on his Research, working with the same zeal, devotion and enthusiasm like he always did from the very beginning. He held on to his dream of working for NASA, with all earnestness. His brilliant mind refused to believe that he did not have it in him to make it to the NASA.
On the 19th of May, 2014, this year he finally gave us all the great news that would make us stop in our tracks, clasp our hands together, jump in the air high, and then get into a wild frenzy of leviathan joy and ecstasy!
NASA had finally chosen him for PhD!
He got a scintillating offer from NASA that no one could ever refuse! He will now need to be working on the Rover data of curiosity and opportunity. His project titled-Rock Breakdown on Earth and Mars, would be a collaboration between three eminent organizations-the NASA, the Oxford University, and the Trinity College. He would do his Lab work at the Oxford Rock Breakdown Laboratory, Oxford University, study at the Trinity College, where he gets the Trinity Award which includes full scholarship and living allowance and eventually he would keep working with and assisting his Supervisor at NASA.
And the final icing on the cake is he has also bagged the glittering J.N. Tata Endowment Scholarship Award for Higher Education & Research!
Life has finally come one full circle for this young, bright, hardworking and brilliant young man who refused to give up on his dreams. He finally achieved his beautiful dream.
Dreams certainly do come true.