Attending Bhaktivedanta College (herein referred to as BC) was definitely one of the best parts of my life. I gained so much during the 3 years of my education. To do justice to all of it I would have to write a ten thousand word essay, which is now compulsory for all students to take during their third and final year. The dissertation was not compulsory, so lucky me. But don’t let that scare you. At a certain point in my third year, I was finding it difficult to write essays under four thousand words! That’s the quality of education in BC, you learn so much that it is sometimes difficult to limit it to only a few thousand. Now, you might be thinking that this article is another one of those fantastic, glittery glorifications of the college from the point of the view of an overzealous alumni student. You are mistaken. Here’s the deal. I’m simply going to share with you my honest testimony of my experience of the college and where it has taken me. So sit back, relax, and grab some crackers, as you are about to learn about my successful journey to and beyond BC and the Radhadesh community.
I won’t bore you with too much of my auto-biography, but I’ll give you a little a background. When I came to BC, my experience in the academic world was little or none. Basically, I came as a fresh slate with nothing to offer. I’ll admit, I felt a little trepidation with not being acclimated to the academic world. I learned very quickly that I had nothing to fear, as all the college staff and my professors and teachers were enthusiastically ready and willing to get me prepared for everything. The orientation week before classes started were lifesaving and highly beneficial, and they set the tone which carried me through the whole rest of the year. Along the way, the resident teachers and staff were always willing to be of assistance. All the students live in the Radhadesh community and eat prasadam along with the other devotees, and are required to attend some percentage of the morning programs. Many amazing devotees would travel through Radhadesh often, either as teachers or regular guests. And the subjects we studied in the Bachelor of Theology course were always intellectually stimulating and enlightening (except for a of couple lethally boring ones, but hey, you can only expect so much). After 3 years, I graduated in June of 2011 with my BA in Theology. In all, my experience was amazing and I have so many memories that I cherish and reflect on still.
So, here I am as a graduate of the Bhaktivedanta College with a degree which is accredited by the University of Wales (degrees are now accredited by the University of Chester). What do I do now? Well, after my first year I had the good sense to think proactively and start pondering on what I would do with my degree and what career I could pursue with it. I did some soul searching and realized that what I would enjoy most in life is to become a teacher. I decided that I wanted to get a master’s degree in education and started researching universities to find out which program would be best for me. Incidentally, the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, my home town, offered the perfect program for me. I was afraid that having a foreign degree might cause some complications or disqualify me from joining the course, but when I submitted my official transcripts they were accepted without any questions asked. The whole program lasted one year with 30 credit hours and a full year internship in an elementary school. Without any hesitation, I will say that this year has been and will probably be the most intense of my life. My internship had me in the elementary classroom Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. For the fall semester (August-December), I was in a 3rd grade classroom with children between the ages of 7 and 9, and my spring semester (January-May) was spent in a 5th grade classroom with 10-12 year olds. On top of being in the classroom and dealing with children and teaching for 8 hours a day, I had academic class in the afternoon on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, which carried on for 3 hours. There was no shortage of assignments and projects to be completed and turned in. Everything together was almost overwhelming. However, the training I received at BC primed me for the graduate program, and I remember that the first essay I wrote for my Educational Psychology class received full marks. In fact, I graduated with a 3.9/4.0 GPA (grade point average), which is a near perfect grade for those of you who are not familiar with the American grading system.
I have had so much fun during this year and have grown immensely in my professionalism and personal life through the months and weeks. I graduated with my Masters of Education degree on May 4th 2012 from the University of Florida and am now a certified Florida educator. Come August, I will be a full time teacher in an Elementary school. My career is secure and my future is bright as far as my work is concerned. And what a great way to use my talents and training in Krishna’s service! Education is so important, and we definitely need more professionally trained teachers in our gurukulas to deliver premium quality instruction to our children while helping them develop into cultured and good natured devotees. The last thoughts I’d like to share with you is the future of education in our ISKCON society. We have gurukulas all around the world and we certainly need to improve the facilities and create more. We need to create more schools which can be run by devotee professionals and give our children the academics and Krishna conscious atmosphere they need to be successful in today’s world. We need Colleges and Universities of our own. We need to be able to offer degrees and training in various areas of expertise. The Bhaktivedanta College is our first and most excellent step at establishing satisfactory university level education. For those of you wondering whether you could benefit from attending BC, let me tell you, from my own testimony, that you would be making a great choice to apply and get the experience.