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     PEC officially renames girls hostel after KC

Chandigarh, April 28th 2006 Tribune News Service

Too little too late nothing describes the response of Punjab Engineering College towards the memory of its most illustrious alumnus Kalpana Chawla more aptly than this. More than three years of her tragic death in spaceship Columbia, PEC woke up today to rename one of its hostels after her.

A brainchild of former Punjab Governor and UT Administrator Lt-General JFR Jacob, this idea saw the light of the day today. Even the college Director admitted that there had been an oversight in implementing the decision all these years.

The renaming ceremony was held here in the presence of Kalpana Chawla's father B.L. Chawla and sister Sumeeta Chaudhry, and her teachers with the Punjab Governor and UT Administrator, General S.F. Rodrigues, presiding over the ceremony.

General Rodrigues performed the candle lighting and stone unveiling ceremony of renaming of hostel and went round the exhibition of Kalpana Chawla's pictures and books at the Himgiri hostel. An exhibition of works done by city- based artist Ravinder Sharma on her life was also put up.

A medley depicting the various milestones of Kalpana's life was performed on stage bringing alive her journey from Tagore Bal Niketan School and the Karnal flying club to PEC and finally, to the USA for higher studies after which she joined NASA.

Her years in the PEC were showcased in the booklet prepared by students. "Kalpana was the only female student in the aeronautical engineering course. She was a karate black belt and was referred to as ''yank'' by her classmates and had a heart of gold. She regularly paid the fee of a less fortunate batch mate. Always forthright in her manners and ready to take a stand on important issues, Kalpana won the respect of classmates. If ever the question of a future career was discussed, she would always point to the sky and say," I am going to fly". Kalpana was also the editor of PECMAG and a joint secretary of the Aero and Astro Club," states the brochure.

Recalling Kalpana as a student, the then head of the department, Prof V.S. Malhotra said: ''She was determined and focused and is the most appropriate model for the future of the country." Stating that it was an epoch-making event, Prof Malhotra said, "Not because a building was being renamed after Kalpana, but because by doing so we are taking a pledge to dedicate ourselves to create an environment so that in times to come many Kalpanas will spring forth from this college,"

Addressing the students briefly, Kalpana's father exhorted them to take care of the nation, nature and the environment. "These were close to Kalpana's heart and she strongly believed in preserving them. Don't be negligent with the environment but preserve it for ourselves and the future generations," he said.

General Rodrigues said: "The little girl, Kalpana Chawla, had set out a path for us and showed that nothing was impossible to achieve. She made a mark by her commitment, strength and confidence in a foreign land, without any substantial support and recommendations for any quarter. She pursued and ultimately brought glory to our Nation by succeeding in her mission, overcoming all odds and obstacles by her professional zeal. Her single minded devotion is an example for all of us."



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