Civic volunteer’s journey to gold medal — juggling work and studyhttps://indianexpress.com/article/education/civic-volunteers-journey-to-gold-medal-juggling-work-and-study-5195016/

Civic volunteer’s journey to gold medal — juggling work and study

As a civic volunteer under Asansol North police station, his schedule in the last few months has been tough. He was among the 80,000 volunteers deployed for panchayat election duty.

civic volunteers
Sudeep Pal at the convocation on Saturday. Subham Dutta

Every night for the last three years, Asansol-based civic volunteer Sudeep Pal has been burning the midnight oil to put in a few extra hours of study. A student of the Kazi Nazrul University’s masters’ programme in Philosophy, Pal’s hardwork paid off last Saturday, when he was presented a gold medal in the presence of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the convocation.

“After losing my father in 2009, I was forced to find work to support my family and my aspiration of becoming a teacher,” the 26-year-old told The Indian Express. He lives with his mother, his elder brother, a technician in a private college, and his family. “I got a job as civic volunteer in 2013 and since then, I have been working and studying as hard as possible.”

As a civic volunteer, he would get a stipend of Rs 5,500 every month. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee recently announced that the civic volunteers would now get Rs 8,000. But Pal made sure his options were not limited despite financial issues. He had completed his undergraduate studies in Philosophy from B C College in Asansol in 2014 and had enrolled for Master’s degree at Kazi Nazrul University in 2015. His aim is long term. “I want to be a professor of Philosophy,” he said, a choice he believes will have better pay and working hours.

As a civic volunteer under Asansol North police station, his schedule in the last few months has been tough. He was among the 80,000 volunteers deployed for panchayat election duty. There were several reports of violence at the time but Pal, who was deployed in Barabani block, said his area was relatively peaceful. “Whenever VIPs come to Asansol, civic volunteers are pressed into service to provide security and check traffic,” he said. “I asked for the night shift so that I could attend classes at the university. That ate into my sleep time. But my superiors were kind enough to allow it and my teachers were cooperative,” he said. Apart from him, 18 others received a gold medal for postgraduation at the convocation.

University Assistant Professor (Philosophy) Sheikh Abdul Halim praised Pal. “He is a very hard-working student and sincere in his approach. Despite several obstacles, he is just one step closer to his goal. His journey has been extraordinary.” Pal now plans to sit for the National Eligibility Test.