Back in history | Just ‘a bright girl’
2 June, 2023, 7:30 pm
A gold medallist in physics and mathematics, Sadhana Subramani made the news when she joined the University of the South Pacific as an associate lecturer in mathematics.
“I enjoy being a student at USP and I suppose I will just enjoy the view from the other end,” she said.
An article published in The Fiji Times on March 3, 1984, said when the first semester began Ms Subramani said it was a little awkward working with lecturers who were her teachers.
“But I will soon get over it, I got on well with my lecturers and now I will become one of them.”
Ms Subramani, quite simply, was a smart girl, not just in mathematics but in all subjects from the time she started school.
She was unruffled by her achievements and put her success down to natural ability, together with some hard work, steadfast interest in the subject of study, and concentration.
Born in Lautoka, Ms Subramani attended Lautoka Methodist Primary School and topped her class for six years.
In Class 7 she dropped to number two, and then picked up again, coming first in Class 8. She enrolled at Natabua High School for a while and when the family moved to Suva in 1978, Ms Subramani did Form 6 at Dudley High School.
At the end of the year she was named dux of the school, and created a Dudley record by coming first in the New Zealand University Entrance Exam.
Her hard work paid off and she was offered a scholarship to study at the University of the South Pacific.
Ms Subramani said she chose physics and maths, the subjects she liked best, and an additional course in Education. The whole program entailed five years of study.
In the Foundation Year, equivalent to Form 7, she sailed through and achieved Grade 1 at the end of the year.
“My classmates accepted the fact that I was a bright girl. “I did not spend any more time than the other students, or sacrificed my leisure time studying hard.”
Ms Subramani’s interest in academia began from a very early age. While other little girls were playing with dolls or engaged in games, she was not.
“I always liked working with and manipulating figures. I can manage and cope with any kind of mathematics.”
She did algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus and computer programming — a subject in which she developed a special interest.
Ms Subramani said academic excellence was the norm in her family. The eldest brother, Anil Kumar, was senior analyst programmer at the Bank of New Zealand.
The second brother, Sunil Kumar, was awarded a gold medal in 1981 as USP’s star student and broke the record for that year.
“For his BSc (Bachelor of Science), he took 20 courses and received A pluses in all. He was studying even less than me and is much cleverer than I am.”
The similarity between brothers and sister was that they were all good in all subjects, even though their speciality was maths.
Anil was in Australia doing his PhD in maths, and Sadhana was considering doing her Masters in Maths from the second semester on a part-time basis.
It was likely that a PhD would follow at some later stage.