A Life of Lessons: Protima Roy
I first became aware of Dr. Protima Roy’s passion for teaching and helping others when I was an undergraduate student at Drury. She was one of my professors in the education department, and I was enrolled in several of her classes while pursing my degree in music education. Later, she became my supervising teacher when I did my student teaching. Even though music was not her major area of study and expertise, she was always helpful in offering suggestions for working with students, keeping them engaged in the topic and implementing good classroom management skills. Beyond that, she was one of the few female professors at Drury at the time and as such, she served as a role model for many of us.
Hailing from India, Dr. Roy’s personal story was always intriguing and seemed very “exotic” to those of us who had never traveled beyond the Ozarks. Her students enjoyed hearing about her culture and her journey to this country. When I returned to teach at Drury, I became more aware of her continued work in her home country and her commitment to educate women and children there. In recent years, I have had the honor of visiting the Protima Child and Women Development Center in the tribal village of Khatguria on two different occasions. The work that she started in the village and school is an inspiration to all those who visit this special place. Walking through the village with Protima is really a life-changing experience. She is “Mother Teresa” to the villagers. She has provided hope through educating their children with the prospect of creating jobs and entering the secondary education system.
Protima’s work with the women of the village is also inspirational. With the purchase of one single sewing machine, the women began to learn skills that could provide extra income for their families. That single machine has now grown into an impressive skill training center for women with an entire classroom of sewing machines and various other tools to enhance and develop additional skills. You immediately notice the pride reflected in the women’s faces when they display their creations, and when their customers purchase them.
Dr. Roy has impacted so many in the Drury community. Dr. Charles Taylor, a longtime colleague, describes Dr. Roy as “one of Drury’s crown jewels.” He says: “Though she is humble, her impact on generations of students – including my own daughter – cannot be overstated.” He speaks of her high standards for student achievement but also about the support Protima provides to allow students to meet those expectations. “She raises students up; never brings standards down,” he says. “Protima is a model of engaged global citizenship we’d all do well to emulate. I’ll miss her.”
By Dr. Tijuana Julian, Vice President for Student Affairs / Dean of Students