What do a second semester student, a local physician and an international business man have in common?
More than you’d think.
Gatika Padel, Dr. Murali Atluru and Dr. Prasad Sureddi all hail from India and beyond that, all three are closely tied with Naugatuck Valley Community College.
Perhaps most importantly, each understands what it means to leave family and country behind in the pursuit of education. Not coincidentally, this experience has in some way or other tied their fate to the mission of the community college.
Gatika Padel, 20, moved to New Jersey from Gujrat, India, two years ago when her father’s job was transferred. They moved again this past semester and Gatika enrolled at NVCC. Just one semester later her family is preparing to move back to New Jersey, but Gatika has decided to stay.
New to the area and still fairly new to this country, Gatika has done something she had never done before this spring. She entered a contest.
“My father tried to talk me out of it,” said Gatika, “he was trying to protect me. But I was sure – not sure that I’d win – but sure that it was what I wanted to do.”
The Women's Center Mural contest called for proposals that focused on the theme of "sisterhood." Gatika's mural was selected unanimously and its unveiling was celebrated on June 16.
Since, Gatika feels assured that she has found a reason to stay at NVCC when her family moves back to New Jersey over the summer.
“I’ve been painting more and more and it becomes my home when I put it on paper,” said Gatika. “I want to major in art. I never knew what I wanted to do before but I feel sure.”
Many years earlier, another immigrant from India was unexpectedly creating roots in the states.
Dr. Murali Atluru, member of the Board of Trustees of Connecticut Community-Technical Colleges
Dr. Murali Atluru, member of the Board of Trustees for Connecticut Community Colleges and president & CEO of Diversified Technology Consultants in Hamden, left his job and country in 1968 to complete his doctorate in environmental engineering at West Virginia University.
In spite of his initial resolution to earn his degree and return to India, Dr. Atluru decided to take a chance after graduating and accepted a job at a small New Haven engineering firm.
“My family said to stay for the experience and eventually I just kept staying,” he said. “I was the first of my family to come here and now there are 50-60 second generation immigrants here with us.”
In 1979, Dr. Atluru established the company he now owns and has managed to survive through rough waters. Carried at times by the generous support of family, friends and colleagues, the company recently celebrated 30 years and is happy to be able to give back to the community that “gave so much” to them.
“My father always said, ‘do the best you can every day and help others if you can.’ I honestly believe good karma has helped us survive.”
Through the recently established Atluru Foundation, four scholarships are awarded annually to engineering majors at Gateway Community College and DTC provides internships for young students who are beginning their career. In their most recent move, DTC also donated $30,000 worth of excess furniture to Naugatuck Valley Community College.
“It’s in our blood,” he explains. “We want to help people.”
Though the economy is down and revenues are uncertain, Dr. Atluru reminds us that “now is when help is needed the most.”
Dr. Prasad Sureddi, M.D., member of the NVCC Regional Advisory Council
And his nephew, Dr. Prasad Sureddi, M.D., couldn’t agree more.
“Last year I received an invitation from President De Filippis asking if I would like to be involved with the College,” said Dr. Sureddi. “I look around my office and all my employees have gone to community college or are related to someone who has gone to the community college. It's a good opportunity to serve the community in a small way.”
Dr. Sureddi emigrated in 1977 from the city of Hyderabad in south central India to earn his medical degree. At age 24, he was leaving his country for only the second time in his life.
“Many of the people I met in America helped me, which made my journey much more easy. My wife enrolled at NVCC, then Mattatuck, and it gave her a good understanding of American society. She loved the experience and works with me in the office now.”
Dr. Sureddi owns Aesthetique, An Advanced Cosmetic & Laser Surgery Center, LLC, which is adjacent to the NVCC campus.
“It’s nice to see all the new buildings behind our office. Plus, we walk the campus and use the gardens almost daily.”
Like his uncle, Dr. Sureddi was raised with a strong appreciation for education and engaging in the community. Thus, the invitation to join the College’s Regional Advisory Council was a natural fit.
“Whether there is a need or a desire to remain within the comfort of one’s own surroundings, there is a big need for the community college. I know several people that could have gone elsewhere but went to a community college to meet one need or another.
In recent years, there’s been a major spiritual shift on the NVCC campus,” he concluded, “and that is a very positive thing for our community. I’m honored to give back.”