Subbiah Sankaran

Education and Freedom

Two Important Words for an Immigrant

There are many words and sayings that have inspired me throughout my life. Two of them stand above all the others. They are education and freedom. These two living words are so intertwined that they can be mentioned separately or together in whatever sequences the situation demands.

My early days in my native country, India, were spent mostly in the northern part of India where my father worked for the government. My elementary school education was primarily in Catholic missionary schools. When I was ready for high school, I wanted to go to an expensive private high school for boys. My parents had sacrificed many things and saved so that I could go abroad to college someday. They asked me to consider a less expensive education in the South which they said would be very valuable in my later years. I agreed at that time and I now know how right they were. During those four years in the South I studied feverishly to be the best so that I would not have any trouble getting admission and a scholarship in any overseas college of my choice. It was during that same period, in 1947, that India got its independence from British rule and I learned about the other word, freedom. I quickly learned how freedom and education were going to set me apart from the conditions that surrounded me.

It was a stroke of luck that my father was transferred to the United States to be in the diplomatic corps. My dream to go overseas for the best education came true. I received my bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering from two of the finest universities. I worked for a few years to practice my education before marrying my sweetheart, Ann. We then went back to India to see if we could live there to start my career. After two years there, we decided that the education and life we could give our first son would have to be back in the United States.

I returned with my wife and son. This time I entered as a legal immigrant and not as a visitor. The United States of America is a land of opportunity. We knew that our children would have the best education and the life of freedom to be who they wanted to be. We practiced what our parents had taught us and gave our children the opportunity to be successful through education. All three of them were given the opportunity to go to the university of their choice. Sure we had to sacrifice. My wife went to work. In the end it was all worthwhile. All of them received their degrees in different fields of their own choice. They continued later and went back to graduate school so that their careers would be enriched. Today they are all very successful in their own field and have families of their own. Next year, two of our grand children will be entering college and we definitively believe that they know the importance of education to preserve their freedom.

I received my citizenship soon after our return from India. My wife who was born in this country, helped me understand the full meaning of being an American as we raised our children to be worthy of calling this country their own. We shared our enthusiasm by sponsoring my sister and brother who came here with the fervor to give a good education to their children. All of their children are all college graduates. My sister received her doctorate degree in history to become a professor at a private university. Her children received masters and doctorate degrees. We are immensely proud of our children and my siblings' children who were born Americans or who became Americans to make this country even better than it is today.

My engineering career gave me the opportunity to travel all over the world. I remember one such a trip to Europe's Eastern block nations in the 1960's. I really saw what was not there. These were countries without freedom, at that time. I have been back and seen the big change since freedom took over. I realized quickly that what I had done early in my life to get the education that I wanted was the surest way to enjoy the freedom that we all deserve.

I have lived over 50 years in this country, many as an American citizen voting in all the elections for our freedom. I fully understand the subtle but huge connection between the two words. I also realize that they are both living words. They grow everyday. I hope the message to aspiring immigrants and citizens is as clear to them, as it is to me.

Subbiah Sankaran
August 2007
Sparks, NV.

Last updated: January 18, 2017

Experience More