CHENNAI: A visit to the alma mater is always special. And at the Queen Mary’s College, the Old Students Association (OSA) had more reasons to cheer as they gathered on Wednesday to discuss the various activities planned for the institution’s centenary year celebrations starting from July 14. Alumnae of the college, founded on July 14, 1914, were present as they fondly recalled their college days.
“I might have studied and worked across the world, but Queen Mary’s is always special to me. The one thing that immediately strikes me when I think of this place is the library and the tennis court where I spent most of time. It is sad that the buildings are now old and collapsing,” said Sarasa Bharathi, 80, who works as an academic advisor in a well-known private institution.
Leela Thiraviyum, 91, one of the oldest students in the group recalled her fellow students’ participation in the Quit India Movement.
“I was the president of the students’ union then. Two students from Intermediate and a research student were jailed at the time of the Quit India Movement. We also witnessed the World War II,” said the student of 1942-43 batch. “You know those days; we were not interested in fashion and style. In fact, we used to make fun of girls wearing lipstick. Admissions were strictly on merit. Today, it has changed so much that girls are so conscious about their looks,” she added with a smile.
Every student had a unique story to tell when it came to their alma mater. Mahalakshmi of the 1989 batch recalled her association with the college from the days of her great grandmother, who handed over 16 acres of land for free to set up the college in 1914. “My great grandfather Arcot Ratna Sabha Mudaliyar ran a hotel here. After he passed away, my great grandma took over but she could not take care of the hotel. She rented it out for 5 annas. Then, following request from the then governor, 16 acres of the land were handed over for free. I completed both my UG and PG courses here,” she said as she sat with other old students in a classroom singing songs.
With celebrations to kick start this month, various activities have been planned, including erecting a pillar with a contribution of `7 lakh from old students and release of a postal stamp.
The OSA had been meeting every Wednesday for the past one year to plan the activities for the centenary year. “The Education Minister will inaugurate the celebrations. We have sent a proposal to the government to construct 60 classrooms as a part of the centenary celebrations. The celebrations will culminate in December,” said R Akthar Begum, principal, Queen Mary’s College.