Dr. Manjeet Kaur Kaushal: From Refugee Roots to Vice-Chancellor

INDIA – Dr. Manjeet Kaur Kaushal’s remarkable journey from a challenging childhood to becoming a Vice-Chancellor serves as an inspiring testament to resilience, dedication, and the transformative power of education.

Early Life and Family Struggles

Born on October 3, 1962, in Delhi, India, Dr. Manjeet Kaur Kaushal’s life was shaped by her family’s history of resilience. Her father, who migrated from Pakistan’s POK during the 1947 independence period at the age of 14, faced numerous struggles as the only son in a family with five sisters. After marrying her mother in 1958, the family lived a conservative, orthodox life.

Her father worked various jobs, including positions at the Indian Railways, Cement Research Institute of India, and Oberoi Intercontinental, to support his family’s high expenditures. Despite these challenges, he ensured his six children—four brothers and two sisters—received an education.

Educational Pursuits and Early Challenges

Attending a government school, Dr. Kaushal faced initial resistance from her father regarding her education beyond class X. However, with the support of her teachers and mother, she convinced him to allow her to continue her studies. Excelling academically, she graduated from Delhi University in 1982.

Marriage and Continued Struggles

In February 1984, Dr. Kaushal married and moved to Shillong, Meghalaya. There, she faced mistreatment from her husband’s family and endured significant hardships, including inadequate care after the birth of her son. Encouraged by her father, she pursued a B.Ed. from MDU Rohtak, Haryana, and completed a master’s in commerce from Delhi University via distance education in 1988.

Professional Journey and Achievements

Dr. Kaushal began her teaching career at a Montessori school with a modest salary. Despite passing several competitive exams, family constraints prevented her from taking up those positions. She continued to teach and, in 1989, became a voice for All India Radio Shillong, working as a radio jockey for 24 years and participating in Doordarshan programs.

In 1999, she joined Shillong Engineering and Management College as a visiting faculty member and became a founder member of St. Peter’s Higher Secondary School and College. She earned her Ph.D. in 2003 from the Indian Institute of Management and Technology (IIMT).

Leadership Roles and Recognition

Dr. Kaushal’s leadership roles included serving as principal at Kelian Public School, registrar at CMJ University, and Pro VC at Himalaya University. Her journey from a nursery teacher to Vice-Chancellor is a significant achievement. She was twice nominated Woman of the Year by the American Biographical Institute and has received numerous awards for her contributions to education.

Current Role and Philosophy

Currently, as Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Kaushal continues to inspire through her work and philosophy. At nearly 62, she reflects on her journey with gratitude for her supportive family and the lessons learned from her challenges.

She believes: “The losers of the mind are the losers, the winners of the mind are the winners. Where there is a will, there is a way.” Her story underscores the importance of self-control, self-discipline, and self-respect, and serves as a beacon of hope and motivation for many.

Dr. Manjeet Kaur Kaushal’s life journey exemplifies how determination and perseverance can overcome the toughest of circumstances, leading to impactful contributions and leadership in the field of education.